Miho Fukuhara

Music Is My Life

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A sophomore effort, Music Is My Life shows off a whole series of musical tones and moods from singer Miho Fukuhara. Importantly, she mixes Japanese pop aesthetics and Western pop aesthetics along the way, alternating between the elements as well as attempting to integrate them. The album opens with a somewhat cacophonous urban mess in "Rising Like a Flame." Despite the mess of music, though, Fukuhara shows off a Christina Aguilera-like attempt at powerful, natural vocals. "Hanabi Sky" moves toward a Disney pop format, with just a tinge of rock built in. With "Mirai," she moves into what's almost a highly produced singer/songwriter space, but with "Let It Out," she gets into the balladry of J-pop. The balladry turns more Western and more acoustic as she moves on, only moving back to a more urban sound with "Baby Baby," built on what could have been an early Jay-Z backing track. It's at this point that the listener also realizes that Fukuhara has been using English throughout, and without the pitfalls of pronunciation that befall so many artists attempting to cross cultures and genres. As the album finishes, the similarities to Christina Aguilera become more obvious, and Fukuhara does a better job of making the sound a bit of her own rather than simply aping others. "Touch & Love," for example, is an excellent showcase of energy that doesn't quite get away from her. Fitting with the theme of authenticity running off and on through the album, the set concludes with a couple of acoustic ballads that focus primarily on Fukuhara's vocals. The album as a whole goes too many places, tries too many things to really be pleasing all the way through. When it does shine, though, it shines with a lot of promise for Fukuhara as she develops a sound of her own.