ayaka – First Message

February 17, 2007 at 4:47 PM | Posted in ayaka | Leave a comment
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First Message is ayaka’s debut album and it was released on November 1, 2006. The album reached #1 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 1,184,718 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

ayaka is more well known for her ballads, but this album contains only 2 ballads (I believe and Mikazuki) and the rest are pop / rock songs with the occasional slow acoustic track. The first of these songs is Start to 0 (Love), probably my favorite out of all of them. It’s a very carefree song with a catchy chorus. ayaka’s vocals are amazing and I love how she can change the quality of her voice to match the style of the song.

The next track is Real voice, ayaka’s 3rd single. This song is only above average compared to the rest of the singles but it’s still pretty good.

Track 3 is the studio recording of Sha la la (the live version was released first on the melody ~SOUNDS REAL~ single) and it opens with old fashioned piano chords with low pitched vocals from ayaka. The high notes during the vocals are great and I love the ’sha la la’ sequence during the bridge.

Track 4 first appeared as the B-side on the melody ~SOUNDS REAL~ single. Blue Days is a slower-paced acoustic guitar based song. Once again, ayaka does an amazing job reaching those high notes during the chorus.

Track 5 is ayaka’s debut single and the song that put her in the spotlight. I believe is a dramatic ballad with a sweeping string arrangement.

The next 3 tracks are all upbeat pop songs and the first one is Stay with me. This song is pretty good and the trend continues with melody, ayaka’s 2nd single. That song is followed by Kimi no Power to Otona no Furi, another personal favorite of mine. All of these songs are done very well but there isn’t really a distinct difference between them.

Track 9 plays as a short intermission on the album. Eien no Monogatari is only a 2 minute long acoustic song but despite its length, it features impressive vocals.

I did find track 10 to be a little different from the rest of the new songs on the album. Toki wo Modoshite has a darker atmosphere and the chorus has more aggressive vocals. I also liked the strong brass in the background.

Tracks 11 and 12 are also upbeat pop / rock songs. The bridge of 1・2・3・4 is great because of the distorted vocals and Story has an extremely infectious chorus and its overall mood is very light-hearted.

Track 13 was only average for me. Lailalai is pretty short but I liked the bridge and ayaka’s use of the phrase ‘lailalai‘ that echoes every now and then is very catchy.

ayaka definitely saved the best for last with Mikazuki, her 4th single and the main reason why this album has sold so well. What else is there to say? It’s a very beautiful song and ayaka gives one of her best vocal performances in it.

The final track on the album is the simple yet effective message. It features no music but a short verse of ayaka singing acapella. I think it’s the perfect way to end the album after Mikazuki.

First Message definitely didn’t disappoint in my opinion. Sure, most of the new songs sound similar but it doesn’t matter if they’re all crafted exceptionally well, which is the case for this album. I enjoyed every song, especially the ballads, and this has got to be one of the best debut albums out right now. I highly recommend it if you like high quality music with a lot of heart and soul.

Overall Rating

4 stars

Tracklisting

1. Start to 0 (Love)
2. Real voice
3. Sha la la
4. Blue Days (ブルーデイズ)
5. I believe
6. Stay with me
7. melody
8. Kimi no Power to Otona no Furi (君のパワーと大人のフリ)
9. Eien no Monogatari (永遠の物語)
10. Toki wo Modoshite (時を戻して)
11. 1・2・3・4
12. Story
13. Lailalai (ライラライ)
14. Mikazuki (三日月)
15. message

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

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