Hitomi Shimatani – PRIMA ROSA

June 16, 2007 at 9:49 PM | Posted in Hitomi Shimatani | Leave a comment
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The cover of the CD only edition

PRIMA ROSA is Hitomi Shimatani’s 6th album and it was released on March 7, 2007. The album reached #16 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 24,818 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

The first track is the energetic Ramblin’. It’s a very pretty song with gentle electric guitar and percussion. Shimatani’s vocals are wonderful especially when she sings the fast paced chorus. It’s a great song that instantly sets the refreshing tone of this album. 

Track 2 is a continuation of Ramblin’ as it follows the same upbeat pop style. Kimi no Koe has a dominant string arrangement with gorgeous vocals. Shimatani reaches those high notes easily and she doesn’t strain her voice.

The final track of the album’s ‘pop’ phase is Hareta Hi wa…, a song that is pretty much a combination of the last two tracks. It’s nice but not as good as Ramblin’ or Kimi no Koe.

The album takes a completely different direction with the next track. Dragonfly, the last single released before the album, sticks out like a sore thumb since it has that strong rock sound and none of the other songs are like it.

I thought there was nothing ‘psychedelic’ about track 6, Psychedelic Future. It’s actually a bubblegum pop song with blaring brass and cutesy vocals. The carefree English lyrics of the bridge were fun and the bridge itself was definitely the best part of the song because it also has a incredibly catchy percussion solo. Compared to the rest of the songs on the album, this would be my least favorite simply because I thought the other songs were better and not because I didn’t like it.

I thought the new album version of Camellia was so much better than the single version. The new version is reminiscent of her past ‘crossover’ works because of the added strings and dance beats. A lot of the elements of the single version have been altered or removed and it’s a major improvement.

Destiny -Taiyou no Hana- is my favorite song on the album because it’s epic, grandiose, and extremely ethereal. The string and percussion arrangement is amazing and this is probably one of the best ‘crossover’ themed songs of her career.

I really liked the western European sound of track 8, Praha no Onna. The music sounds very festive with its ethnic strings and clapping. This song is 1 of the 3 ‘cultured’ tracks on the album (even though the other 2 songs are Spanish inspired).

I thought it was kind of odd to place Koimizu -tears of love- smack dab in the middle of all these upbeat tracks. This song is a very pretty ballad but it would have been better if it was placed near the end of the album.

The next 2 tracks are a nice return to the Spanish pop songs of her early career. PASIO has a very catchy chorus and a very noticable accordion in the background.

El Dorado is the more ‘ethnic’ track of the two because it actually sounds authentic. I didn’t like it as much as PASIO even though it followed the same style.

I thought it was a bad idea to place Haru Machibito at the end since it has that refreshing spring atmosphere that the first 3 songs on the album had. It’s still a good song but it should have been placed right after Ramblin’.

On the CD+DVD edition of the album, Brand new Dream is the final track. This is a beautiful and uplifting song with a simple but absolutely gorgeous string arrangement. I loved the light hearted nature of the song.

On the CD only edition, Futari de Iijanai is a bonus track. The song was a duet with Sony artist Masayuki Suzuki. This song was also released as a collaboration single on January 15, 2007 (by Sony, not avex trax). The overall sound of this song is VERY old school and similar to 80s mainstream pop. I’m not too fond of Masayuki Suzuki but he has a nice, deep voice. However, when they sing together, Shimatani’s voice totally overpowers Suzuki’s. I mean, you CAN hear his voice, but Shimatani dominates the whole song just by listening to the chorus.

PRIMA ROSA was my first Hitomi Shimatani album and I loved it on the first listen. There were a lot of memorable tracks for me and I thought Shimatani’s voice was one of the best things I have heard in a long time. From a new fan’s perspective (like myself), this is a wonderful album. When I saw the reactions from veteran fans who have listened to past albums first such as Tsuioku+LOVE LETTER, Heart & Symphony, and even her special concept album crossover, they didn’t like PRIMA ROSA as much. I could understand what they are saying though and I would probably feel the same way under those situations, but I don’t. For those who want to try out Shimatani’s music, this album is an EXCELLENT introduction to the various styles of music that she performs. You get the ‘crossover’ genre songs (Destiny -Taiyou no Hana-), the ethnic songs from the earlier years of her career (PASIO), as well as the pop songs (Ramblin’). Her past albums have had a consistant sound but PRIMA ROSA combines it all in one nice package. I would have liked it if they moved certain tracks because some of the songs felt really out of place (Koizmizu -tears of love- and Haru Machibito were the biggest examples of this). Aside from that, this is a flawless album.

Overall Rating

5 stars

Tracklisting

1. Ramblin’
2. Kimi no Koe (君の声)
3. Hareta Hi wa… (晴れた日は・・・)
4. Dragonfly
5. Psychedelic Future (サイケデリック*フューチャー)
6. Camellia (PRIMA ROSA Version) (Camellia -カメリア-)
7. Destiny -Taiyou no Hana- (Destiny -太陽の花-)
8. Praha no Onna (プラハの女)
9. Koimizu -tears of love- (恋水 -tears of love-)
10. PASIO (PASIO~パッシオ)
11. El Dorado
12. Haru Machibito (春待人)
13. Brand new Dream
14. Futari de Iijanai (ふたりでいいじゃない) / Masayuki Suzuki & Hitomi Shimatani
      [CD only bonus track]

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

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