Maia Hirasawa first gained notice as a backup singer for Annika Norlin's Hello Saferide, and fans of that band will certainly recognize a similar brand of sweet, intimate, folksy pop on the Japanese-Swedish singer/songwriter's humbly titled debut album. That said, Hirasawa does carve out a strong identity for herself here, one that's sometimes whimsical but not as overly cutesy as her former band (school children vocals notwithstanding); if anything more prone to overeager sentimentalism, but not so earnestly straightforward in her expression of it. Drawing musically from a palette of jazz and broadway-style piano ballads as well as folk and pop, she's generally inclined toward muted, wistful reflection, frequently undercutting even her bubblier, more optimistic seeming pop tunes with shades of lyrical uncertainty and ambiguity. That's especially true of the album's two biggest-sounding moments -- the bouncy full-bore pop single "And I Found This Boy" and the jazzy "Crackers," which features a brass section and a vocal duet with cabaret-pop starlet Miss Li. Some of the calmer numbers, like the string-laden waltz-ballad "Gothenburg" and the charming opener "Still June," with its intoxicatingly lush self-harmonies, offer glimmers of genuine hope, all the sweeter for being unanticipated. Throughout, Hirasawa displays an unusually versatile and expressive voice, reminiscent of Regina Spektor in its distinctive personality and emotional range, which is a large part of what makes Though, I'm Just Me so effortless and pleasurable. A quiet gem of a debut.
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AllMusic Review by K. Ross Hoffman
feat: Miss Li