May J. – FAMILYJune 26, 2009 at 11:38 PM | Posted in May J. | 1 Comment
The cover of the CD+DVD edition
FAMILY is May J.’s 2nd album and it was released on May 27, 2009. The album reached #4 on the Oricon Weekly Charts and sold 69,153 copies. It’s also her first album released under the rhythm zone label.
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There weren’t any singles released prior to the album, but the first 3 tracks served as the promotional material. Starting things off is Garden, a cheery R&B track that is a cover of a Sugar Soul song. It features 4 different people as well. DJ KAORI, as her name indicates, remixed the track and it includes more frequent beats than the original while still maintaining those looping piano chords and strings. The rappers include Diggy-MO’ (from SOUL’d OUT) and the duo Clench & Blistah, who each have their respective solo lines. Personally, I liked Clench & Blistah’s parts more since Diggy-MO’ has a funky voice. Anyway, it’s a good opening track.
The next song is something that is more on the acoustic side. Moshi Kimi to… is pretty upbeat as well and it features the duo Kimaguren, who remind me of Spontania but with acoustic guitars. Next to May J.’s strong vocals, the two guys of Kimaguren have nice solo lines and I liked their harmonizations during the chorus. This is another great collaboration and I liked it a little bit more than Garden.
Okay, here’s a song with just May J.! Tabidatsu Kimi ni is the album’s pivotal track because of its theme relating to people who stick together because they are family. It is a lovely song and the music is filled with light beats, piano, and sweeping strings. May J’s vocals are at their best as well and she displays great control of her voice.
The album includes 2 short tracks that consist of just a simple piano with May J. talking in English. In FAMILY -Interlude-, May J. talks about what a family is and how important it can be for somebody. Being an interlude, it provides a transition into the next track and the album’s pop phase.
The next track is a little slower but has heavier beats. The music in Story of Love doesn’t have much variety since it’s mostly just a looping harp with detached beats. I got bored with this song pretty quickly and it was one of the album’s least memorable tracks for me. Let’s move on, shall we?
The interlude makes more sense since Give my heart is quite different from the previous tracks. This song is upbeat, cute, and definitely within the realm of pop. There is a lot of high pitched synth and rhythmic beats in the music. I don’t think this is a bad thing for May J. though since she can pull off less R&B oriented material. The chorus is a good example because she sounds great and not forced at all.
Sayonara no Hoka ni is also much better. It’s a sweet mid-tempo song with cute chimes and fingersnap beats. It starts off pleasant enough but the chorus is especially good since it’s catchy and adds gentle strings in the background. May J. performs the high notes very well in this song too.
May J. collaborates with Clench & Blistah again for Remember, a laid back song with a steady, thumping beat. The additional acoustics and synth were a nice touch as well since they make the music more interesting. I thought the rapping in this song was pretty good and Clench & Blistah are a great R&B duo. They both have sleek, fluid voices that compliment the tone of the music. I can add them to the list of Japanese rappers that I like!
Here is the other short track and it serves as the album’s “outro”. Unity is also longer than the “FAMILY” interlude and it has brighter piano chords. In this track, May J. talks about how war, hate, and discrimination are things that will break us apart. After a pleasant solo, she goes on to say that love, music, and passion will unite us. A little corny, but I understand the message behind it. I’m not hating! =x
Ending the album is the DAISHI DANCE remix of Crescent Moon, the English version of Tabidatsu Kimi ni. I love me some DAISHI DANCE remixes so I was really pleased with this track. I just enjoy how he transform songs to have an amazing neoclassical sound and that’s exactly what he does here. The English lyrics, penned by May J. herself, are nice too.
It’s true that FAMILY is a lot less “urban” than May J.’s debut album Baby Girl, but I wasn’t disappointed. Honestly, I don’t mind the overall pop sensibility of this album and she has released a solid sophomore effort. Almost all of the songs were executed with a good amount of production value and I liked most of them. Overall, her vocals were better too. On a final note, I thought the album’s main theme surrounding the importance of the family was great and it presented a positive, uplifting message. For that, I applaud her.
1. Garden feat. DJ KAORI, Diggy-MO’, Clench & Blistah
(Garden feat. DJ KAORI, Diggy-MO’, クレンチ&ブリスタ)
2. Moshi Kimi to… with Kimaguren (もし君と・・・ with キマグレン)
3. Tabidatsu Kimi ni (旅立つ君に)
4. FAMILY -Interlude-
5. Story of Love
6. Give my heart
7. Sayonara no Hoka ni (サヨナラの他に)
8. Remember feat. Clench & Blistah (Remember feat. クレンチ&ブリスタ)
9. Unity -Outro-
10. Crescent Moon -DAISHI DANCE remix-
Note: My favorite tracks are highlighted in blue!