Angela Aki [TODAY] (Second Japanese Album)

October 27, 2008

Sakurairo (サクラ色; Sakura Colour)
Again
TODAY
Ai no Uta (愛のうた; Love Song)
Tashika ni (たしかに; Surely)
Silent Girl
Moral no Soushiki (モラルの葬式; The Funeral of Morals)
Otome Gokoro (乙女心; The Feelings of a Girl)
One Melody
Tomo no Shirushi (Friend Symbol)
Kodoku no Kakera (孤独のカケラ; Fragments of Solitude)
On & On
Surrender

The album starts off with the nostalgic Sakurairo (サクラ色; Sakura Colour). I have always loved this song, mostly because its so familiar. It really reminds me of coming home again after a long absence. The arrangement is really gorgeous, it gives off such a contentment and feeling of warmth. Angela’s vocals were really in tune, like you could feel how much she felt what she was saying, especially when she says, ‘zutto’ at the end of the chorus’. My favorite part of the song has to be the bridge, when Angela slows her vocals a bit, her voice sounds weighed down; heavy and it really made me connect with her. This was a solid and good start to the album.

The next track ups the pace a bit with Again. It amazes me that I did not like this song when I first listened to this album, but it is a really good song. Lovely and very intense piano playing from Angela in the arrangement, gave this track a lot of depth and atmosphere. Angela’s vocals were very desperate to me in a sense, and it really pulled me into the song. I just love the chorus, its so catchy. This is one of the songs that would be great during concerts or tours, I hope Angela takes advantage of it.

The next track is the up-tempo TODAY. This is really quite the infectious song. I mean in all truth the only thing that keeps this track a float is how terribly infectious and engaging the chorus is, you know, the repeated succession of ‘today!’ oh yeah and her kick ass piano playing in the arrangement, I loved every minute of it. I could literally picture Angela standing up her fingers ripping across the keys and just really getting into this song. TODAY is a song that can become old, pretty fast and the chorus has the tendency to become repetitive and annoying–but I seem to enjoy it more and more every time I listen to it.

The next track is the down-tempo Ai no Uta (愛のうた; Love Song). I always figured Angela would do an infamous ‘ai no uta’ song, and here ya’ go. I wasn’t too enthusiastic with this song when I first heard it, I thought it was terribly boring, lank and uninspired. I took the time to actually listen to it one day when I was going through the album and realized that it was quite a beautiful song. Angela’s piano playing is very light, but it really does its part to set a somber mood. Angela’s vocals were also gorgeous and very emotional, especially towards the end when she utters: ‘(oh) i’m callin’, callin’, callin’, callin’ your name’ this is a good, and rather under appreciated song.

The next track is the infectious Tashika ni (たしかに; Surely). This song plays a lot like TODAY, only its a lot more interesting and a lot more fun. It’s less serious than TODAY and I believe that’s why I find that I enjoy it more. The arrangement is pretty rambunctious, Angela is really getting into her piano playing, and it doesn’t let up. I can say the same for her vocal performance, a lot of the time she sounded breathless to me, and you could tell she was really feeling the song. This is a track that you can easily find yourself growing tired of, and after awhile it does become a bit dull and repetitive, but its still a good song.

The next track is the rather boring Silent Girl. No matter how many times I listen to it, I can never shake the fact that this is just one of the dullest songs I ever heard. It also seems to get even more boring every time I listen to it. The arrangement is very basic, quiet, and stagnant. It alone can lull you to sleep. Angela’s vocals are pretty OK, though nothing special. It felt as if she took this song a little too seriously, and was trying way too hard to make it emotional, and it just made the song very tedious.

Thankfully the next track ups the pace and brings me out of the stupor ’caused by the last track. Moral no Soushiki (モラルの葬式; The Funeral of Morals) is a bit on the dramatic side. I thought the arrangement was pretty dark and powerful, and added a slight edge and intrigue to the song to really pull you in. Angela’s vocals were very focused and pretty good, and seemed like she was really into the song, working hard to make the message of it felt. It seems rather religious to me, and the car screeching and the frenzied pace of the song towards the end was just really haunting to me. This is definitely a memorable song, even if it does have the tendency to become boring.

The next track on the album is the cross between down and mid-tempo, Otome Gokoro (乙女心; The Feelings of a Girl). This is another song off this album that I didn’t too much favor when I first listened to this, and even though I’ve grown to like it, it still isn’t all that interesting. The arrangement is pretty tame, but it does what it should. Angela’s vocals I did like, the sort of deep tone she used was nice and didn’t make it seem like she was running out of breath. The chorus is really the high light of the song, its pretty memorable. I adore the title.

The next track is the down-tempo One Melody. This song is pretty long-winded and boring. I mean I like the arrangement, its very pretty and soothing, Angela’s vocals are fine if not a little plain, and I like the ‘one melody’ of the chorus, but in all truth this song gets dull as soon as it starts and doesn’t let up. Its also forgettable in every sense of the word.

The next track on the album is the mournful Tomo no Shirushi (友のしるし; Friend Symbol). I get a very mournful vibe from this song. There’s not much going on with this song, it has a minimal though rather moving arrangement (it sounds a bit like Onegai), and Angela’s vocal performance was slow put still rather pretty and sad. I at first thought this song was just really boring and not really memorable at all, but it has a subtle charm about it that I like. That, and its not really a bad song.

The next track keeps the down-tempo’s coming with Kodoku no Kakera (孤独のカケラ; Fragments of Solitude). This is really a lovely song. I adored how it opened with the piano and went out with it. The twinkle like quality of it made it very wistful and engaging. Angela’s vocals were nice as well, though I did expect this song to be a lot more than what it was. It just came off as very anti-climactic to me. Still, its a good song.

The second to last track on the album is the phenomenal On&On. Angela kicks it up a notch with this song, and what a relief, because the down-tempo tracks were becoming a stupor. The piano arrangement in this song is most definitely one of her best, and you could tell she was really into it, but not only that but the song in general. Angela really put emotion into this song, and I loved every minute of it. The ‘dreams live on and on!’ part always gets me, its just such an inspirational and positive song; to always follow your dreams and your heart. This is definitely a song I wouldn’t mind hearing live, the sheer depth of it alone is enough to bring you to tears.

The last track on the album is the down-tempo Surrender. What a beautiful and absolutely heart-wrenching song. I thought the piano arrangement was gorgeous and so very melancholy. Angela’s vocals were top-notch in this track and full of so much emotion, I could just hear them spilling over. This was such a great and powerful way to end the album. I also like how she ended it with a song entirely in English like Your Love Song (which I still love better). HOME ended on a rather sad note, TODAY ends on a somewhat hopeful one.

-GRADE: A-
Rating: **1/2 stars

Angela Aki’s second album TODAY is not as good as I thought it would be, and certainly not as good as HOME was. The up-tempo songs were nice, and catchy, but after awhile had the tendency to become a bit boring and redundant. The down-tempo songs were good as well, but at the same time they seemed to go on far longer than they should have, thus making them very tedious in the process. Angela’s main instrument in nearly all of her songs is the piano, and though she plays the piano very well and the arrangements are more often than not gorgeous, it does get old and I would have liked to hear a bit more variety. Angela had some really stellar tracks on here: Sakurairo, TODAY, Tashika ni, Moral no Soushiki, On&On and Surrender. Again, Ai no Uta, Otome Gokoro, and Tomo no Shirushi and Kodoku no Kakera actually really surprised me, because I at one point really disliked them, but now I find them quite enjoyable. Silent Girl is a drag of a song, and I’ll never like it, its just way too boring and the same goes to One Melody. TODAY is a much lighter side to HOME, and though I enjoyed her debut album more, this album is still pretty damn good.

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