Angela Aki: TODAY

Sakurairo

Again

Today

Ai no Uta

Tashika ni

Silent Girl

Moral no Soushiki

Otome Gokoro

One Melody

Tomo no Shirushi

Kodoku no Kakera

On & On

Surrender

*****

Songs in bold are previously released singles. Songs in blue (with a link) have already been reviewed. Those songs will, however, be reviewed in context of the album once more.

*****

TODAY is Angela Aki’s second studio album, released on September 19th, 2007. It reached #1 on Oricon and has sold 197 312 copies.

Starting off the album is the warm Sakurairo (cherry blossom-colored—single originally released on March 7th, 2007). The beginning is, as with most of Angela Aki’s songs, soft, but the song eventually evolves into a more full-fledged ballad, with strings and drums in the background. I found her voice particularly beautiful on this song.

Next is Again, a fast-paced, merry song which didn’t seem to promising at the beginning, but the fast verses and just the happiness of the song taught me to love this song. With Sakurairo and Again, this album begins with a bang!

The title track, Today, is slower than Again, and isn’t quite as nice, but I liked the chorus, a lot. The song does draw certain elements from jazz, but not blatantly. Another quality track from Angela.

Ai no Uta (love song) is a wonderful ballad with powerful vocals. Is it just me, or is Angela moving more and more toward Ayaka? The verses were pretty boring, but the chorus is the usual Angela Aki style full-blown beautiful. Not the best of her ballads, but one of them.

The least impressive single of the TODAY era, Tashika ni (surely—single originally released on July 11th, 2007) is a happy song with touches of melancholy. The very end is great, but the actual song is mediocre in comparison with all the great stuff she’s served us so far in the album.

The first seconds of Silent Girl remind me of that German song I loved to sing when I was a kid, Silent Night. Indeed, the song is very silent placed after the uplifting Tashika ni. Frankly, I though Silent Girl was nice, but sort of bland, even compared to Tashika ni.

Moral no Soushiki (funeral of morals) is by far the most Western-sounding song on the album, but in a good way. The song feels very unstructured to me because it has a lot of different sounds which appear without even a short break or a transition. Nonetheless, an appreciable song.

Otome Gokoro (girl’s feelings) features a more urban sound that I didn’t really find to be Angela’s style, and I find it doesn’t really fit into this album. The fast-paced chorus is catchy, but that’s all this song has to offer.

Ah! What a beautiful song! One Melody begins in that typical Angela way, vocals and just a piano, both very soft. I’ve always found that to be somewhat of a turn-off, but that’s beside the point for the moment. If you thought Ai no Uta was heartbreaking, you’ll die when hearing One Melody. The first chorus isn’t too impressive, but the re-run is absolutely fantastic!

Tomo no Shirushi (friend’s symbol) begins with a bass being seemingly randomly plucked, but then opens into a jazzy tune in the soft Angela style. Again. The piano reminds me of Ben Folds Five and other such artists, and I could imagine them singing this song in English.

Kodoku no Kakera (pieces of solitude—single originally released on May 23rd, 2007) is another heartbreak-ballad, not quite as much as One Melody, but more outgoing and therefore better than One Melody. The chorus is just beautiful and her vocals just add to its beauty.

Originally featured as the B-Side on Sakurairo, On & On could be described as piano rock. Its outgoing and happy, and just a very charming song. The chorus on this song is the best chorus on this album, yet very Western. Life goes on & on!

Somehow Surrender just seems to blow all the album’s other songs, even the singles. It’s just plain gorgeous, and not just because it’s English. The lyrics are gorgeous, and the vocals on this song are to die for! I still can’t stop listening to this song. Surrender does make for a beautiful ending because it’s a soft song to signify the end.

In summary, TODAY is an absolutely wonderful album. Whereas Home was sadder, TODAY showcases a far more outgoing, happy ensemble of songs. The singles of this era were a lot better than those from Home, so I was expecting something like this. Sure, the album had its flaws, but they were all minor and applied only to the songs, not to the actual face of the album. And I like the cover; nice and simple, yet it speaks for itself. I don’t know if it’s just me, but her facial expression seems to say “today”, “now”.

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