Mika Nakashima – YES

June 3, 2007 at 2:30 PM | Posted in Mika Nakashima | 1 Comment
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The cover of the CD+DVD edition

YES is Mika Nakashima’s 5th album and it was released on March 14, 2007. The album reached #3 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 295,486 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

The opening track is a new version of I LOVE YOU, Nakashima’s cover of the famous Yutaka Ozaki song. Her original cover was the B-side on the Mienai Hoshi single. The new version definitely fits in better with the album’s gospel theme because it features jazzy piano, choir vocals, and a gentle electric guitar. I still prefer her original cover because it sounds more traditional but I could see why it was rearranged specifically for the album.

Track 2 is probably the most ‘traditional’ sounding song on the album because it sounds similar to Nakashima’s early songs. Mienai Hoshi sounds very similar to her 2002 hit single WILL but with a slight gospel twist.

It was a hard decision but I am now positive that Sunao na Mama is my favorite song on the album. Nakashima does everything right with this song because of its mixture of soothing jazz and familiar pop.

Get ready to head down South because this is the point where the album truly begins with its signature Southern gospel sound. CRY NO MORE and ALL HANDS TOGETHER both make full use of a jazz band ensemble and along with the authentic church choir vocals, Nakashima really captures that essense. CRY NO MORE is definitely more of a blues song while ALL HANDS TOGETHER is upbeat, ragtime jazz.

Track 6 is the first new original song on the album and it’s awesome. I love the opening riffs of DANCE WITH THE DEVIL and song’s old school rock sound is very infectious.

The next track is the height of the album’s upbeat rock phase. BLACK & BLUE has strong riffs and a blaring brass section. This song was originally the B-side on the CRY NO MORE single.

Track 8 was a very big surprise for me. JOY is a cheery piano song that features complete English lyrics. Nakashima’s English vocals were really good this time around and almost completely understandable.

Track 9 marks another turning point in the album because this is when the songs become more mellow and dive even deeper into the gospel genre. THE DIVIDING LINE is a pretty song that doesn’t really pick up until the chorus when some percussion and choir vocals come in. I love the ending of the song because the lyrics fit right in with the album’s main theme: everyone say yes.

MY SUGAR CAT is the most unique song on the album because it’s reggae, pure and simple. It’s an incredibly catchy song and I love the reggae loop mixed in with the jazzy brass section. The song is a nice break from the rest of the tracks and it’s quite refreshing.

Track 11 was another eye opener for me. Yogoreta Hana is so reminscent of the current American country music scene that I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. But you know, I really began to like it after a couple of listens. Nakashima’s vocals are fantastic, especially during the catchy chorus.

Track 12 is another country inspired song but GOING BACK HOME is more relaxed and free spirited. I didn’t mind the harmonica that played at certain parts of the song at all because it is very much an essential part of the song’s atmosphere and it does feel right at home.

The next track is by far the most gospel influenced song on the album. Kinenka is uplifting and mixes piano, light electric guitar, and gentle percussion. When the church choir vocals arrive and begin to sing a simple “La la la la” loop near the end of the song, I felt like I was at a church waving my hands in air (if that makes any sense LMAO).

I thought Nakashima’s cover of WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD was a very fitting end for this album. It definitely gives the album a feeling of closure because of the reminiscent lyrics.

I love YES to death because it is so unique and different from the normal J-pop you hear these days. Nakashima went on a limb and created one of the most original albums of the year. I have a huge respect for this album because it made me appreciate other genres of music that I wouldn’t have bothered to listen to before. DANCE WITH THE DEVIL, MY SUGAR CAT, and Yogoreta Hana are the best examples of this. If you compare this album to her past works such as LOVE or MUSIC, you will find it not as good because YES has a completely new sound that might be shocking to fans of her more traditional jazz style.

Overall Rating

5 stars

Tracklisting

1. I LOVE YOU (Album Ver.)
2. Mienai Hoshi (見えない星)
3. Sunao na Mama (素直なまま)
4. CRY NO MORE
5. ALL HANDS TOGETHER
6. DANCE WITH THE DEVIL
7. BLACK & BLUE
8. JOY
9. THE DIVIDING LINE
10. MY SUGAR CAT
11. Yogoreta Hana (汚れた花)
12. GOING BACK HOME
13. Kinenka (祈念歌)
14. WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

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1 Comment »

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  1. I agree with you 100 percent. This album is further proof that no matter what she does, she continues to stand apart from the mainstream blather of ‘everywhere else,’ so to speak. I wrote on Amazon that this was a ‘soothing and touching listening experience.’ True, it won’t please fans of her old style, but it HAS pleased her most die-hard fans (like me).

    Waiting for her next album in 2009…


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