Misia's ninth album has a particular focus, put into rather clear light by the title: the set consists mostly of ballads, letting Misia use her surprisingly powerful vocals to provide some added drama and power throughout the proceedings. The ballads themselves are fairly standard fare. Not much is new in the arrangements or the basic sense of the album aside from a few small interesting touches -- a tiny bit of sitar in "So Beautiful," some nightclub jazz piano in "Kuchibiru to Kuchibiru." The real star of the show is Misia's voice. She can present power and emotion with incredible facility. At the same time, she can overpower her pieces -- while trying to get to the biggest, brassiest notes she can go overboard, not quite getting to the pretty parts that are needed for the sensitivity of a ballad. With this in mind, the result is a bit of a hit-and-miss set, with some great moments but also some relatively lackluster moments thrown in when the arrangements get weaker than they should be or Misia gets stronger than she should be.
Just Ballade Review
by Adam Greenberg