Yumi Matsutoya

Soshitemoichido Yumemirudaro

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Long a major star in the Japanese pop canon, Yumi Matsutoya has kept a firm hold on the more melodramatic, grandiose pop that characterized Japanese music long before the contemporary manufactured formats. On Soshitemoichido Yumemirudaro ("And I Will Dream Again"), her 35th studio album, she makes her way through ten songs ranging from traditional folk to vaguely '70s-style R&B. The album opens with a relatively standard bit of singsongy folk in "Picadilly Circus," then moves into a slight summer groove. "Heart no Rakugaki" has a mix of gospel and Carole King in its influences, and "Flying Messenger" stands as a surprising bit of rock, with guitar riffs reminiscent of Keith Richards and vocals from Matsutoya that call upon singers such as Kyoko, with a flatter delivery fitting itself into the mix. Buenos Adios answers the eternal question of what an Astor Piazzolla song would sound like with Japanese vocals (the answer: a little odd, but a worthwhile experiment), and Judas Kiss mixes ;80s-style synth orchestral hits with a grandiose delivery common to some of the stereotypical Asian karaoke hits of the past decades. More dated rock tinges come in "Dangerous Tonight" as it morphs into a bit of post-disco warbling, and the tone continues for the remainder of the album. Matsutoya's voice has always been the star, and it remains so 35 albums in. The songs can seem a bit more lackluster given their stylistic age, but Matsutoya performs them well, showing them off as little nuggets of musical goodness from a different era.