Onitsuka Chihiro – FAMOUS MICROPHONE

June 7, 2012 at 1:27 pm (Onitsuka Chihiro) (, )

1.Scarborough Fair
2.Brass in Pocket
3.Mother Nature’s Son
4.Time After Time
6.Sweet Home Alabama
7.Take Me Home, Country Roads
8.You’ve Got a Friend
9. I Need To Be In Love
10. The Rose
11.Bitter Flavor Road

As part of what appears to be a growing fascination of American culture, Onitsuka Chihiro decided to release a cover album of exclusively Western songs. And she didn’t do any translation either; it’s all in English. While her pronunciation was never quite amazing, there was hope that she would still twist the songs a bit and make them her own. Unfortunately, she didn’t.

Starting off the album is the traditional song, “Scarborough Fair”. Filled with distorted vocal layers, the arrangement at least proves interesting, but the main vocal line suffers a bit from the layering. And has her pronunciation improved? Not a bit. There’s a usual swapping of r’s and l’s, and a general mumbling that makes much of the song unintelligible unless you know what she’s trying to say. “Brass in Pocket” has a much more typical arrangement, and her vocals are much more fun and strong. “Mother Nature’s Son” takes another hit of poor vocal layering, but the arrangement is a little more upbeat and fun than the original.

Slowing things down again is “Time After Time”. It’s got a pleasant acoustic arrangement, and a small effect is placed on the vocals and guitar to give the recording a bit of an aged feel. Or perhaps they’re trying to mask that her voice sounds considerably weaker here. Her performance from 2001 does this song much more justice. A bit of a shame, really. “Desperado” is more of the same. The arrangement is almost identical to the original, but her voice is a bit stronger.

“Sweet Home Alabama” takes things back to upbeat country territories. The arrangement is almost identical to the original, but her voice seems more out of place here than other songs. I think I just hate that opening note. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” follows suit, but now the vocal layerings actually work quite well, and I think her voice as a whole sounds better here.

Back to the ballads, “You’ve Got A Friend” gets a few extra instruments from the stripped down version of NINE DIRTS. It’s just as strong of a performance, and I like the cute way she ends the song off. “I Need To Be In Love” is actually an older recording, appearing on a tribute album to the Carpenters. Her vocals here are notably better than the rest of the album, and the arrangement is reminiscent of “Mamotte Agetai” (definitely a good thing). Even her English seems pretty good here. Finally we have “The Rose”, which is another piano-only arrangement with soft vocals. She does well, although I’ve never been a fan of the song…

Ending the album is a new song by Chihiro, “Bitter Flavor Road”. Featuring a strong guitar with a few other instruments, it sounds a bit like her other attempts in this area, like “I Pass By” and the stripped down versions of songs like “NEW AGE STRANGER”. The result is a mumbled mess with non-sensical lyrics that sounds rather sloppy. It’s easy to make fun of, at least.

So all in all? Unless you really like these songs but don’t already have them, I don’t see why you would want the album. Even tten, it might be better to get the originals over this. Her English singing voice is as always a little harsh, hard to understand, and rough as of late. Maybe the album will grow with time? The arrangements for the most part are pretty typical, with nothing unexpected or particularly notable. And the new song is certainly no “Wakusei no Mori” (which at its time was a pretty darn good reason to shell out 3000yen for an album full of older tracks). The album packaging is nice though, with good pictures, theme, and even a slipcase.



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