No I didn’t. Nor the Oricon chart cares. 21 years old Japanese singer songwriter and one-time actress releases a b-side album and it charted at #1. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw her 4th album “My Short Stories” at HMV. Wasn’t it this April when she released her last studio album? I am still regularly listening to “I Loved Yesterday”. By April 27, I have listened to that one song “LOVE & TRUTH” no less than 400 times. By June 13, I estimated the played time of the same song to be 5,000. Today, you connect the dots and tell me how many times “LOVE & TRUTH” has killed me softly again, and again.
I couldn’t contain my excitement when I first listened to YUI’s “My Short Stories”. But something was missing, something didn’t seem right. I was desperately looking for the rock identity (“Rolling Star” anyone?) that YUI has evolved from her shy, simple, pleasant debut but I found none; I was desperately looking for the new symphonic sound (like my beloved “LOVE & TRUTH”) and I found none neither. YUI seems to have returned to her root in the first few tracks (kind of too early for a budding 21 years old artist don’t you think?). Onto the fifth song “Jam”, the rock identity seems to surface. And I am falling more in love with the album as the track number increases. “I Wanna Be”, “Cloudy”, and “Crossroad” are some of my favorite tracks. The last song, a nice slow one – “Why Me” – wraps up the compilation nicely.
There is still no “LOVE & TRUTH” that I so long for. But as an album disregarding that it is a b-side compilation, I wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from the rest of her studio albums in terms of production quality. I am indeed delighted to learn that this is a b-side compilation because now I get to better appreciate another side of YUI, to relive her growth once again. PS. The below nicely done video, “I’ll Be”, is the only new song from the compilation.
Accompanying her CD is a DVD collection of three video clips and a set of live recording. OK, I am not going to defend her vocals in a band setting because it is simply not her strength. Simply put, YUI sounds much better with just YUI and her guitar and I suspect she composes her songs with just that (on that note, I think I can personally relate). In some of the live clips, a few cameras were following her wandering the streets of Sapporo, Sendai, and Hiroshima with her guitar. In one classic act like she used to do before she becomes famous, she sat down in a quiet corner, took out her guitar and started singing. Gosh, she is my inspiration. Need not to say, it didn’t take long for the crowd to build up during those live recording sessions on the street.
Some artists are just worth the effort to follow their music careers with, to quietly and patiently observe how they grow. If you are new to YUI, start with her movie “Midnight Sun”. It won’t go wrong.