Shimizu Shota [Umbrella] (First Album)

January 2, 2009

Diggin’ On U
HOME
With You
My Treasure
One Last Kiss
Love Story
Rainy Day’s Morning*
UNHAPPY
LOVIN U
Aishiteru (I Love You)
My Love
Soulmate
Sorezore (Respect)
HOME (HIPHOP REMIX)

The album starts off with the half and half Diggin’ On U. This song started off well enough, with some smooth and nice vocals from Shimizu up against a laid-back beat… and then he starts rapping and I’m like: ‘WTF!?’ I mean I almost stopped listening to the song, but I sucked it up and in the end found myself enjoying the song. The arrangement is pretty minimal, a guitar that plays like background noise and then some bass–the only time I really paid attention to it was at the start of the song an the end. Shimizu’s vocals during the chorus and hook were smooth and nice, I wish that he would have just sung the whole song, but I guess him deciding the rap the verses put a nice twist to the song since I (or anyone else) was expecting him too. Shimizu’s rapping is all right, but he should definitely not quit his day job (I don’t even want to get started on why I thought he was doing a cover of TLC’s ‘diggin’ on you’ when I saw the title). This was an all right start to the album.

The next track on the album is the nostalgic HOME. What can I say about this song that I haven’t already said on my single review of it? Oh yeah, this one seems a little weaker, and I don’t really know why, but when I listen to a single song and really like it, it always comes across as sounding really underwhelming on the album. I really don’t know why this is, but this problem has ruined a few good songs for me, the two most glaring examples being Emyli’s Rain and Yuna Ito’s Mahaloha.

The next track on the album is the mix between down and mid-tempo, With You. Oh, was I even listening to this song when I did a run through of this album on my first listen? Probably not, because this is a pretty good song. The arrangement sounds so familiar, I can’t put my finger on it, but it seriously sounds like I’ve heard it before. Even so its a nice piano arrangement, that gets a bit aggressive and bass driven as we go into the song. Shimizu’s vocals are so good in this song, he kept my attention certainly, but I really just felt like this song went on for far longer than it should have. Still, its a good song, and a new favorite of mine.

The next track on the album is the charming My Treasure. I didn’t too much care for this song on the single (which i’ll be reviewing), I don’t know, I liked it, but it just didn’t jump out at me like it did during this album listen. The arrangement is mainly the piano, and it plays so nice, only doing what it should and keeping relatively to the background. It also has a sparkle light quality to it, that I liked. Shimizu’s vocals are good and he really gets into the song: ‘my treasure’ can come across as really corny to most, but I didn’t find it corny at all, I found it to be very sweet. I really just find myself falling more and more in love with his voice, plus it also helps that he’s pretty cute. I love when he starts ad-libbing, seriously.

The next track on the album is the somewhat down-tempo One Last Kiss. I was so close to not liking this song, why? Its the return of Shimizu rapping. I hate a lot of things, but the one thing I really hate in music other than singers thinking they can act and actors thinking they can sing is when singers think they can rap and rappers think they can sing (in both cases its very RARE that the person can do both… very rare). Shimizu doesn’t have a half bad rapping voice, but I much prefer his singing voice. The chorus compliments his rapping and I love the, ‘one last kiss’ of the chorus. I mean, ‘let’s share one last kiss before we part ways forever…’ poetry.

The next track on the album is the uneventful Love Story. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from a song with ‘love story’ as its title, but I at least expected to like Shimizu’s take on it. This is a pretty boring song, that goes completely over your head. The arrangement was really the only good thing about this, because when you become exhausted with the song its there to at least motivate you to listen through to the end. Shimizu’s vocals are fine, during the verses. I don’t know what went wrong during the chorus, but I just couldn’t be bothered to care when they came up. This song isn’t bad per say, but it could have been so much better.

The next track on the album is the interlude-song Rainy Day’s Morning. Oh, Shimizu why didn’t you stretch this into a full song? Its so beautiful. The arrangement is so mellow and calm, and just fills you with such peace and contentment. Shimizu’s vocals were soft and sweet and I love when he says: ‘rainy days morning’ its just so touching and romantic.

The next track on the album is the awful UNHAPPY. This song is even worse than Love Story, I mean it has absolutely nothing going for it. The beat is pathetic and gets really annoying after a while of hearing the same thing over and over, or is it the same sound? Shimizu’s vocals did nothing for me in this song, I couldn’t tell where the verses ended and the song began. The title is pretty accurate, because I’ll be immensely ‘unhappy’ if I ever have to listen to this again. This song is just the fail.

The next track on the album is the wangst-fest LOVIN U. I tried to like this song, because its not really bad, but its just really boring. The arrangement is really nothing I haven’t heard before and better. It was pretty typical down-tempo rnb. Shimizi’s vocals were all right, but I just found that I didn’t care for them. This song just tries to do too much and exudes too much emotion that is uninspired and unneeded. Its a pretty dull listen.

The next track on the album is the sincere Aishiteru (I Love You). I’ve already gushed generously about how much I love this song, so I won’t repeat myself. Just know I have so much love for this song.

The next track on the album is the soothing My Love. A LOT of love tracks, but this is one of the good ones. It reminds me a bit of Rainy Days Morning as it just doesn’t seem to play long enough, and I just wish it had. The arrangement is a nice guitar piece, that thrums so good and really puts you in a relaxed mood. Shimizu’s vocals were sweet, and I really just adored his vocal performance. Its a very touching song.

The next track on the album is the rather soulful Soulmate. I had to listen to this song twice, because I just didn’t get it the first time around and I wasn’t too much feeling the: ‘you’re always my soulmate’ because it sounded so, ‘i’ve heard this before, and it didn’t make since then and it doesn’t make sense now’ I mean I get it, I just don’t like the elementary wording of it. The arrangement is a bit smooth jazz and light rnb, I really enjoyed it, it brought such atmosphere to this song and Shimizu’s vocals were good. Its a bit long, but I hardly noticed because its such a nice and relaxed listen.

The second to last track on the album is the down-tempo Sorezore (Respect). (sigh) I think I’m falling in love with him–er, his voice! I can only think of one word to describe this song: beautiful. It may sound corny, but I just got such a warm feeling in my chest while listening to this. The arrangement is just lovely and really compliments Shimizu’s gorgeous vocals. Oh, his vocal performance was so good in this song, I absolutely loved when he sung: ‘sorezore’ this would have been such a perfect end to this album, its just so touching and tugs at all the right strings of your heart.

The last track on the album is the bonus, HOME (HIPHOP REMIX). Ugh. Why Shimizu, why? You’re so lucky that this song is so darn good, because this remix made me die a little inside. It started off with a garbage rap, I don’t know if it’s Shimizu, or someone else, and I don’t care, it sucked. The arrangement is sped up for some absurd reason and Shimizu’s vocal performance was flat and uninspired. Fail!

-GRADE: B
Rating: ** stars

Shimizu Shota’s first album Umbrella was a pretty OK album. I’ve been following Shimizu’s music since the beginning; that isn’t saying much of course, because he debuted just this year, but he has so much promise and a great voice and I really want to see how far he goes and where he takes his music. The album is full of love songs, and ballads and the transitions are a bit wonky. It seems like Shimizu was just testing the waters, and plans to bring it full fold the second time around. The tracks on here are pretty good, I found that I disliked only a couple and more often than not it was Shimizu’s voice that reeled me in. I’m a ballad whore, as I’ve stated before, but honestly the amount of love songs on this album were nearly sickening and really made it quite unmemorable in a sense. Shimizu gives me a Robin Thicke vibe, since he’s always coming out with the smooth rnb tracks of love, and very rarely does he come out with something upbeat. Shimizu’s rapping voice is tolerable, but I really hope he doesn’t make a habit of it, because then it’d be Usher all over again. Umbrella was an average album, that’s worth a listen or two, even from casual fans of rnb music, because its not a bad album–just a bit amateurish in its delivery. I hope he brings more variety on his sophomore album.

7 Responses to “Shimizu Shota [Umbrella] (First Album)”

  1. wjohns Says:

    I gotta check this out sometime; it looks like it could be a nice album.

    • memoriesoflove Says:

      I really love him, he has such a nice voice. I definitely recommend you give this album a listen and his new single if you can!

  2. wjohns Says:

    I just got done listening to this album; i really loved it, love story and unhappy were my two favorites; everything else was wonderful, now this is going on my i-pod and since i’m broke; i’m putting this on one of my blank CD’s.

    • memoriesoflove Says:

      I knew you would love this album, because my favorites are definitely ‘Home’ and ‘Aishiteru’ but I do love ‘Rainy Days Morning’ and ‘Sorezore’!

  3. wjohns Says:

    oh and by the way, memory! i’ve reviewed this album and the wonder girls’ album, just click on my name in blue if you wanna read them🙂

  4. wjohns Says:

    Wow, a month ago and I still love this album. I still like that song ‘unhappy’ but ‘love story’ is getting kind of boring after listening to it since august, don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice song and shimizu’s vocals are fine but it’s just that song is starting to bore me.


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