Onitsuka Chihiro

Las Vegas

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Las Vegas Review

by Alexey Eremenko

Onitsuka Chihiro dwells on the sensitive side of J-pop, specializing in the type of heartfelt and piano-heavy balladry that makes up the bulk of Las Vegas. This should raise immediate concerns about the record's saccharine level, considering the tendency of commercially aware Japanese artists to milk their most successful gimmicks to no end. Luckily, attempts have been made to avoid this danger and prevent the album from being a potential health hazard for diabetics. The record opens with an acoustic track to make Keith Urban proud, and there are rocking numbers placed in every second slot for most of the album, their regularity being a proof that it's a calculated effort. Those songs don't sound forced, though, and the only thing that gives them away as afterthoughts is the voice of Onitsuka, which sticks to intonations clearly developed for the more mellow and romantic sort of songs. There's also the fact that "A Horse and a Queen" starts uncannily like Tom Petty's "Last Dance with Mary Jane," but it's cleverly hidden behind a sax line. Still, the positioning of the more dynamic tracks between her token ballads allows Onitsuka to inhabit roughly the same spaces that Roxette did 15 years before her, and that's a commendable choice, although Las Vegas lacks the clear hit singles of either the in-your-face or emotionally moving variety that the Swedes provided, offering a neatly continuous flow of pleasant sound instead. [This limited edition of Las Vegas includes a DVD with three promotional videos.]

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