Hata Motohiro

Alright

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For his debut album, Hata Motohiro hit all the right spots in an attempt to woo the singer/songwriter fans in Japan, writing his own songs, penning his own compositions, and using a wonderfully untweaked voice to emote more than a dozen basic J-Pop boy bands could. The album opens with a somber-sounding bit of adult contemporary, anchored by the slightly scratchy, slightly wailing vocals of Motohiro. The next track, "Kimi, Megure, Boku," is a more straightforward pop composition, but given a tinge of differentiation by that voice once again. Delivery and affectation are different here, aimed at emotions rather than engineered perfection. "Honey Trap" could be a gospel piece with just a little reworking, singer/songwriter aesthetics return to the forefront with "Niji ga Keita Hi" in outstanding form, and a bit of power pop is given a spin in "Saiaku no Hibi," though Motohiro's voice is a bit thin for proper power rock (almost in the vein of the Presidents' version of "Kick out the Jams"). There's a bit more pop here, and a few outstanding collaborations (including a fine one with the supergroup Fukumimi in tow) but the keys are always in Motohiro's strong suit -- singer/songwriter ballads, vocals heavily affected by emotion, drawing out each drop of feeling along the way. Motohiro's got an exceptional ear for the form of a sound, and he can really show if off when in the correct element.

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