ayaka – Sing to the Sky

July 18, 2008 at 3:20 PM | Posted in ayaka | 15 Comments
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Sing to the Sky is ayaka’s 2nd album and it was released on June 25, 2008. The album reached #2 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 575,626 copies.

♦ ♦ ♦

Beginning with a “1,2!” intro, the album opens with a inspirational track. Featuring some small hints of gospel, POWER OF MUSIC is a cheerful tune filled with upbeat piano chords, blaring brass, and soulful vocals. You could tell that ayaka and the band in the studio were having fun while recording this song. During the clapping sequence of the bridge, cheering can be heard in the background. Even though the music is a little on the laid back side, this is a great way to start things off.

Another upbeat track follows and it’s the wonderful Ai wo Utaou. The mix of strings and electric guitar is great and I really liked the powerful chorus. On the Te wo Tsunagou / Ai wo Utaou single, I thought that this was the better song since I found it more interesting.

I guess you could say that this is the album’s pivotal track. Sky is a pleasant song but what stood out for me was the vibrant chorus. It begins with ayaka belting out Fly to the sky  followed by strong vocals. The acoustic pop arrangement is pretty average compared to what’s on the rest of the album though.

The gorgeous acoustic ballad Jewelry day is next and I still haven’t gotten tired of it. This is such a sad song and it’s built on top of a very heartfelt vocal performance. Further into the song, the strings come in and just emphasize on the raw emotion of ayaka’s voice. The ending always gets to me with its beautiful string ensemble.

A cute, bouncy number is up next. Good Night Baby has a nice rhythm and drum beat, but it stays pretty calm for the most part. It’s not until the ending when ayaka’s power vocals show up and the electric guitars begin to elevate. Being barely over 3 minutes long, this is a short and sweet song.

The next track isn’t exactly new. It’s actually kind of old but I didn’t review it because it’s a digital single and you know me. Anyways, For today was released back on November 14, 2007 and it’s an extremely upbeat pop rock song. It’s like a high octane version of her 3rd single Real voice but with even more powerful vocals. ayaka just belts it out in her lower register throughout the entire song while being accompanied by thumping drums and screeching riffs. It’s fun, but it took me multiple listens to start liking it.

Here is a song that I’m still iffy about. Why has grown on me a little, but I still find it kind of boring. The somber lyrics and ayaka’s vocals are great, but the music is what gives me mixed feelings. It’s not a ballad nor is it upbeat, but rather stuck inbetween. I will say that the song does take a turn for the better towards the end when the adlibbing sequence occurs.

Gold Star does show a more edgy side of ayaka on this album. Her vocals are more aggressive and the electric guitars definitely take the spot as the lead instrument. What makes this song better than Meiro (the B-side from the Okaeri single), which was also dominantly rockish in nature, is that it’s way more upbeat. The faster paced music of Gold Star is better suited for her voice.

Now the album slows down a bit for the next 3 tracks. This phase begins with the very charming Mahoustukai no Shiwaza, a piano based song. I loved the gentle, yet playful piano chords and ayaka’s vocals go with the flow. Because the song is short like Good Night Baby, it acts like an interlude between Gold Star and Te wo Tsunagou, which are two radically different songs.

It took me a while to really start appreciating Te wo Tsunagou. Even though I still wish the first half of the song could be more interesting, ayaka’s vocals are fantastic. When the bridge arrives, the tempo changes a fairly good amount with the addition of electric guitars and drums. The final chorus is amazing though.

The next track is pretty interesting because it borrows some elements from blues and jazz. Ai mo Uso mo Shinjitsu has ayaka singing in her lower register again and she sounds surprisingly good. The verses are calm and smooth, but the chorus has those incredible power vocals. I also liked the bridge with its use of upbeat guitar chords.

I honestly love the arrangement of CLAP & LOVE because of the awesome combination of clapping beats, vocoder, and deep electric guitar. I also love ayaka’s husky vocal performance and insanely catchy adlibbing sequences. I think the music is quite offbeat compared to the rest of the album because it lacks any kind of percussion instrument and the clapping is what keeps the beat instead. Add the background vocals and frequent riffs and you now have something unique but very good at the same time.

Okay, so I already think that all the new tracks on this album are good, but ayaka delivers one of her best upbeat songs to date with Kimi ga Iru Kara. It’s also my favorite of the new tracks too. Right from the beginning there’s a flurry of guitar riffs and strings and I was hooked. The chorus is definitely what makes this song shine and I loved how uplifting it was. It’s bound to put a smile on your face.

Now we have the heartwarming Okaeri, the last single released before the album. This is such a sweet song and ayaka gives a gentle, yet assertive vocal performance. I’ve gotten over the bagpipes, but it would have been nice if they WEREN’T there (they seemed sort of unnecessary to me). That’s just a minor detail because I absolutely love this song.

Before the bonus tracks, Konya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete… makes for a beautiful ending to this album. There’s not enough words to describe how gorgeous this piano ballad is. Everything is so well done but what I liked the most about this song are the English lyrics that ayaka sings in the form of stunning high notes. She sings the lines What I need now is you and You made me what I am with such grace and feeling, especially at the end. As far as I’m concerned, this was the perfect final track for the album.

Now let’s move on to the 2 bonus tracks! The first one is ayaka’s hit collaboration with Kobukuro, WINDING ROAD. Her and the 2 members of Kobukuro make such great harmonies during the chorus and also during their respective solo parts. The only part that bugged me was the bridge because everyone goes a little overboard with the adlibbing. Other than that, this was a great collaboration and I can’t wait for their next one titled Anata to which is out in late September.

The 2nd bonus track is the English version of I believe, her debut single. She has sung full English songs before at concerts, but this is currently her only one to be recorded in the studio. Her pronunciation is easy to understand at certain parts, but difficult during others. I think the song sounds good in English and the lyrics are nice for the most part.

Sing to the Sky MIGHT be my favorite album of the year so far. It’s a big improvement over her debut album First Message, especially when it comes to the new tracks. I also felt that Sing to the Sky had more variety as well. The only problem that I noticed with the album was with the placement of certain tracks. The flow is sometimes choppy in some areas and songs like CLAP & LOVE and Jewelry day could have been better placed. However, that’s an extremely small nuisance when you compare it to the grand scheme of things. I thought every new track was executed very well and I even enjoyed the songs that I didn’t like back when they were singles. If you liked her debut album, then you are definitely going to love this one.

Overall Rating

5 stars

Tracklisting

1. POWER OF MUSIC
2. Ai wo Utaou (愛を歌おう)
3. Sky
4. Jewelry day
5. Good Night Baby (グンナイベイビー)
6. For today
7. Why
8. Gold Star (ゴールドスター)
9. Mahoutsukai no Shiwaza (魔法使いのしわざ)
10. Te wo Tsunagou (手をつなごう)
11. Ai mo Uso mo Shinjitsu (愛も嘘も真実)
12. CLAP & LOVE
13. Kimi ga Iru Kara (君がいるから)
14. Okaeri (おかえり)
15. Konya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete… (今夜も星に抱かれて・・・)
16. WINDING ROAD / ayaka × Kobukuro
17. I believe <English ver.>

Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!

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15 Comments »

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  1. Another great review! I definitely agree on this one. This album was fantastic, definitely one of the best albums of 2008 and totally deserving of those 5 stars! :D

  2. love your album review & take on Sing to the Sky . I also did an album review on my music blog too , go check it if you have the time

  3. W00T!! Thank god! I’ve been waiting for this! ( I havent even read this yet LOL)

  4. I actually didnt really like her debut album, but I LOVE this one.

    my favorite track is Konya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete…

  5. Oh wow.
    O-o
    5 stars huh?

    I remember hating First Message, then I slowly started liking it.
    Looks like I’m gonna enjoy this.
    XD

  6. That “might” on “Sing to the Sky MIGHT be my favorite album of the year so far” shouldn’t be there xD
    I didn’t expect this kind of improvement over the first album…

    I’m not in touch with the lastest albums and such, so these reviews of yours help a lot, I think we do like the same kind of music, so just by reading the reviews I usually know what to expect.

    And this album’s NOT a disappointment.

    As for the tracks I enjoyed the most, I’d say
    “Jewelry Day”
    Loved it. I like to sing along too xD

    “Kon’ya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete…”
    It left me wordless, it’s so damn pretty…

    and “WINDING ROAD”
    The brigde doesn’t really bug me, though I agree they go overboard a little (they seem to have had a REALLY good time recording that xD), but I need to turn the volume down x_X Neighbours complaints~

    PS: I apologize if I made mistakes writing, but English isn’t my mother language…
    And yeah, I’m masochist reading all of this in English, but it’s the best web I’ve found TT.TT

    …I think I’ll start commenting more often…

  7. I love this album. It’s so creative, festive, lively and just pure fun to listen to! My favorite songs are Good Night Baby and Konya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete…

    They’re beautiful songs! Good job ayaka!

  8. […] ayaka – Sing to the Sky […]

  9. “Konya…” is my absolute favorite from this album aside from single tracks “jewelry day”, “te…”, and “okaeri”.
    i haven’t gotten a chance to listen to each track one by one. although my initial impression gave me a mixed feeling due to the fact that the tracks arrangement seem messy to me.

  10. Wowza! 5 stars eh Lex? Well miss ayaka is every bit deserving!

    I first found ayaka at random with her digital single For Today. I thought it was a fun track. Later, I was playing Crisis Core and heard Why. I feel in love with the song and ayaka’s vocals.

    Sing to the Sky is a perfect first album for anyone to really enjoy all the talent that ayaka possesses. She’s so great! =D

    I read somewhere recently that ayaka came from the same school of music as YUI. Hmm, interesting. ^_^

  11. I`am a fan of Ayaka since “Real Voice”, but “Mikazuki” was the cherry of the cake. Only it can be described as a beautiful and painful song, that`s beacuse she really feel it.
    First Message was a great album but Sing to the Sky really has the point. Love the aarangements though not all the tracks deserve all the 5 stars it can`t be in other way, as you said so minor details. “konya mo hoshi ni dakarete” it`s a perfect piano ballad. You can feel it, you can imagine yourself in a bar, midlight, short and round tables, and she sings it in the piano.
    I like your reviews so much, found your blog just by my luck and I`m so happy for it, I was expecting so much this review. Thank you so much for it, was the most enjoyable review of Ayaka that I ever read.
    See ya !

  12. Yes! I’m so glad that you gave her five stars for this album. Actually, at first i preferred First Message to this album, because i didn’t know so many of the songs then…but she has a wider range of songs here, and they’re all done really well. Of the new songs, I liked Power of Music the most; Sky seemed a little generic unfortunately and i thought she was not as polished as in other songs. Then again, I really like the singles in this album, as well as Konya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete. So beautiful~

    Ayaka always sounds so amazing.

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