Ame by Keishi Tanaka

Released: 22.06.15 / Label: FRIENDSHIP.

Another artist working with Friendship for their release. Friendship is a distribution service, so I’m not sure how much they actually contribute to the track, but it will be interesting to see what kind of music they favor. I’ve not heard Keishi Tanaka before, but if he’s anything like the previous band we reviewed from this label, it’s going to get funky. Although looking at the cover it may be something a bit more subdued and melancholy. But before we listen, let’s see what he’s about.

Keishi Tanaka has been active in the Japanese music scene since 2002, beginning his journey as vocalist of the J-pop band riddim saunter. They broke up in 2011 and now he is touring and writing music as a solo artist. It looks like he performs with a back band, sometimes up to 11 people, for the big shows. And it looks like he’s starting a ‘Summer Rains Tour’ this month with a three piece group. Let’s see what the tour’s leading track has to offer.

Well that was way more of a pop song than expected from the opening groove. I’m guessing that our singer plays piano on the recording, because the bass and drums are walking all over him in terms of musicality. Surprisingly the vocals sound completely average. Nothing about the melody is unique, the harmonies are pretty flat and don’t pop at all. That last one may be a mix problem, though. I think the best part of the song may be the bass. He’s having a really good time with this part.

The message of the song is a pure one, about overcoming depression and finding the strength to go on. Sadly it’s written using only the most cliché J-pop lyrics of the last 20 years, so it’s hard to hear any real sincerity in the words. The way he sings them makes me wonder how many times he’s said the exact same phrases during his 20 year career.

The production itself seems pretty basic, they clearly know how to record, mix, and master J-pop. But it certainly isn’t anything special, and the vocals in particular could have used a little more love.

Verdict: Skip (1.9/5)

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