Kana Nishino

Love One

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    5
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After a full year of single releases, Kana Nishino's 2009 debut full-length mixes upbeat pop with relatively upbeat R&B, showing off a little bit of interesting material and technique and a lot of bland bits. When Nishino is on, she can sit with the top layers of the J-Pop hierarchy, as evidenced in the straightforward pop numbers (Style, Make Up). Her voice doesn't hold any particularly new elements or massive control, but she's able to twist it to her will fairly well, squeaking intentionally through choruses and providing very slightly deeper intonations for the verses. When she delves deeply into the R&B numbers with their stereotypical backing tracks, the result is somewhat more mixed. Nishino shows easily that she's got a pretty voice. However, the voice is thin, whispering to a fault. The songs get dominated by production as a result, with Nishino just hanging on to the focus by a thread more often than not. She's clearly got a long way to go before she can really stay in the big leagues with the likes of the true luminaries of the scene (Miliyah Kato, Ayumi Hamasaki), but when Nishino gets her hooks into a good song, as she does from time to time on Love One, she shows a glimmering bit of promise that she'll be able to sit in the upper echelons eventually.