Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
A sparkling debut!
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Satoko Ishimine's *Innocent* (1995) is tough to describe but easy to recommend. I speak little to no Japanese but was easily won by Ishimine's intoxicating voice and the gorgeous songs comprising the album. While my tastes are broad, I listen primarily to pop and rock, with a leaning toward the "progressive" (Pink Floyd, Rush, The Fixx, King Crimson). This music has almost nothing in common with most of what I regularly listen to, with the possible exception of Enya. It's extremely "poppy," slick, heavily produced, bordering on saccharine. And yet, there's that voice -- Ishimine, an alto, is easily the most talented Japanese singer I've heard and a great vocalist by any measure -- and those achingly beautiful songs, as light and pure as morning dew.Standouts include the English-titled (but not sung!) "Love & Dream," "Mou Hitori no Watashi [Another Me]," "Nami da Nanka Naga sa Nai [I Won't Shed Tears]," and the closing cut, "Hana [Flower]," Ishimine's version of a hugely popular song in Japan. One of the reasons this material flies so well in lieu of literal comprehension is the songs' unswervingly innovative melodic and structural composition. Rather than attempt to milk a single key and a simple melodic line for far more than any sensible being would ever think they're worth (are you listening, U.S. and U.K. top-40 producers?!), the writers and arrangers on this project change keys and melodies fluently and often, providing enough "b" and "c" sections to please even the staunchest pop critic.I'm not sure if the version sold here provides English translations of the lyrics (my Japanese copy does not), but if someone as lyric- and idea-conscious as I am can get swept away by this stuff, there surely must be many others for whom the language barrier would not be an insurmountable obstacle to loving this record.If you're curious but really need a couple English-language cuts to sweep you in, Ishimine's late-'96 release, *Generation* -- recorded at Peter Gabriel's Real World and the famous Abbey Road studios in London -- offers a benign dance-pop tune called "Summertime Magic" as well as two covers: Gene Raskin's "Those Were the Days" and one of Lennon/McCartney's more obscure (and therefore refreshing) tracks, "Goodbye.""
Just a note more about "beautiful"
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with the person from Washington, DC. She (or he) mentions particularly the first song. I think especially much of the last song, which alone is worth the price of the album. Once I programmed my CD player to repeat it endlessly. When I had finally "drunk my fill," over an hour had passed. For all that listening, I still think it's beyond beautiful."