|Down Town / Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta Nara
|Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru; Tamayura
|Maaya Sakamoto, Tatsurou Yamashita, Takayuki Hattori,
Yumi Arai, Depapepe, Kazuhiko Kato, J.A.M.
|October 20, 2010
|1. Down Town
|Maaya Sakamoto, Tatsurou Yamashita,
|2. Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta Nara
|Maaya Sakamoto, Yumi Arai, Depapepe
|3. Kanashikute Yarikirenai
|Maaya Sakamoto, Kazuhiko Kato, J.A.M.
|4. Down Town (Instrumental)
|Tatsurou Yamashita, Takayuki Hattori
|5. Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta Nara
|Yumi Arai, Depapepe
|6. Kanashikute Yarikirenai (Instrumental)
|Kazuhiko Kato, J.A.M.
Review: If there was any doubt, Maaya Sakamoto shows through Down Town / Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta Nara that she’s still got the vocal chops to deliver some fantastic covers of songs released in the 1970s. “Down Town,” in particular, is an absolute delight from the get-go. The instrumentals, with the bass, an animated brass section, and the sprightly piano backing up Maaya Sakamoto’s expressive vocals all combine to weave an upbeat, carefree atmosphere that evokes the razzle dazzle of the metropolis’s titular area and in so doing, brings forth a track that tops out my list of favorite OP/EDs for this Fall season.
As you can probably infer from the above, all of “Down Town’s” components work well to bring out the fun and excitement that flow out from its depiction of the city’s entertainment district. The nightlife comes alive through Sakamoto’s delivery: her tones are a mixture of calm and cool and are enticing enough that it would get me to to explore the jazz clubs that dot every block and every street corner cafe on account of the latent energy that bubbles forth from her. The subtler elements that arranger Takayuki Hattori tosses into the picture, from the whimsical three-note piano sequence during the chorus to the intermittent car horns, only add to the fun while the song’s faults, like the repetitious lyrics, is overcome by the jazzy instrumentals and the light vocals. The pull that “Down Town” exerts upon me is irresistible: just leave my regards to the humdrum of Main Street as I head off to Broadway!
“Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta Nara” doesn’t make for a great transition since it’s a 180-degree turn from “Down Town,” with a rhythm that departs towards the slower-pace of the country. The acoustic guitar duo of Depapepe, who’ve done some excellent music for Honey and Clover II, play the soft, relaxing accompaniment while Maaya Sakamoto’s soothing vocals are reminiscent of Natsumi Kiyoura’s performance of “Kaze Sagashi” from Sketchbook ~full color’S~. That is, both pieces convey a laid-back, rustic aura conjured through the guitars while the vocalists’ heartfelt delivery succeed in enveloping me with their warmth. In Sakamoto’s case, it gets me to buy into Tamayura’s youthful vibe as it reinforces the message of cherishing the dreams and wonderful memories of one’s childhood, pointless though they may appear to be.
The album wraps up with “Kanashikute Yarikirenai” which takes you into a quieter setting. While all three tracks exude nostalgia, “Kanashikute Yarikirenai’s” sounds much more forlorn. A melancholy air hovers about it as the blues vibe coming from Sakamoto’s longing tones and the bass and piano’s slow tempo draw me into the song’s expression of sadness and loneliness wonderfully. Even if wistfulness and regret are the last thoughts that this album leaves us with, it’s nevertheless a poignant way to go.
It never hurts to do covers of tried and true songs, especially when they still have the staying power that all three songs on this on this album possess. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have competent singers like Maaya Sakamoto take the reins. For her part, Sakamoto continues to demonstrate why she remains one of my favorite seiyuu vocalists by using her voice to bring out the pizazz or evoke the upbeat, tranquil aura of the countryside in the openings to Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru and Tamayura respectively. They might not eclipse some of her earlier works, but out of all the OP/EDs I’ve listened to this season, they stand out as being my two favorites.
Rating: Very Good
Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru OP – Down Town
Tamayura OP -Yasashisa ni Tsutsumareta Nara