alan: Gunjou no Tani

Gunjou no Tani, alan1. Gunjou no Tani

2. Gunjou no Tani Acoustic Version

Gunjou no Tani is alan’s eighth single, released on February 4th, 2009. Like Shiawase no Kane (bells of happiness), it is a tribute single to the victims of the Sichuan Earthquake last year, although this single is a major, physical release, while the previous tribute single had been a digital download.

I was relieved enough when we got to the end of the five elemental singles series, but I’m even more relieved that we’ve finally gotten to the last single of the Voice of EARTH era. And it’s about time. Gunjou no Tani (ultramarine valley) is quite a departure from anything alan has ever done, but it’s pretty close to Kaze no Tegami. What I found remarkable about this single were the combination of the lyrics and almost jig-like song pattern. The idea that the alan we’ve seen in her previous songs is not as stern as she may have let off with her string of powerful ballads; the fact that she in fact a free spirit, and that she does, to a certain extent, regret going to Japan and wishes to go back to her homeland, which is what this song is all about. It’s a fun, honest song, and her vocals during the chorus really bring up this feeling of wanting to return home. As for a comparison to her previous songs; you may find this weird, and some (many?) will disagree on this subject with me, but I think Gunjou no Tani is on the same level as Ashita e no Sanka and RED CLIFF – Shin, Sen –, and when I first heard this song, I thought it was even better.

Much like the orchestral version of her debut single found on RED CLIFF – Shin, Sen –, the Acoustic Version of Gunjou no Tani is disappointing, if only a bit. My main qualm with this song would be that the vocals don’t sound quite as good as they did in the original and the feeling of yearning for home is almost completely gone. But the biggest delight for me was that we finally get to hear alan playing the er-hu in more elaborate and, most importantly, longer parts. It’s interesting, though, how much stronger the folk element is. Not exactly what I was expecting, but it will do to give this single five stars.

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