Well into his career, but back in public consciousness after a spell of relative obscurity during the late '80s, Tsuyoshi Nagabuchi released two albums of love songs a week apart from one another in 2008. The first, Love, is a straightforward set built upon the cultivated hoarseness, and inherent vulnerability, and wizened nature of Nagabuchi's vocals. He doesn't croon so much as plaintively beg, or occasionally simply act as storyteller. While his favored sweet spot is in the folk-rock realm (Dylan being a musical hero), the majority of his songs lean toward the acoustic-electric divide as he moans out the vocals of love and loss. However, there are quick moments of divergence. "Time Goes Around" could pass as a rough country ballad. "Yubikiri Genman" incorporates tiny elements of gospel while taking something of a spoken word approach to the vocal delivery. "Kousaten" uses guitar picking more common to country-blues and bluegrass. Throughout it all, though, Nagabuchi's vocals remain those of a man hurt and driven. He transcends language barriers with the sheer emotionality in his delivery. And along the way, his similarities in sound with Dylan are evident everywhere. Newcomers may benefit from a wider array of Nagabuchi's history, but Love still stands as a good portrait of his current style, looking back to older folk styles and more authentic music creation but staying strong within a tide of manufactured music in a hyperactive industry.
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