Hello by Ichiko Aoba

Released: 22.06.15 / Label: hermine

Ichiko Aoba is an artist that plays a lot in my house, I love her music. It’s usually dark and mysterious so this cover is throwing me for a loop. Maybe we’re in for something different this time?

A folk singer/songwriter from Kyoto, Ichiko has been on the scene since 2010, releasing her first album at the age of 19. She has a lot of albums under her belt and a plethora of side projects including some work in theatre. Her music is definitely more artistic and thoughtful than most folk artists here in Japan. Her haunting voice is also unique in a country where more nasal J-Pop voices are common.

Hello is a sweet song with a caring message meant for a loved one. The music video gives the impression that it may be a message from a parent to a child, but I think these lyrics can be about any person you care about. The song’s arrangement is very minimal, featuring just piano and voice. The melody is clear and the singing is soft and sweet. The piano is played in a pop/classical styling commonly used for school songs here in Japan. It’s a choice that’s certainly supposed to feel nostalgic for Japanese listeners. Ghibli often uses this kind of composition in their sweeter scenes to a similar effect. The cover art also seems to be a child’s drawing, tying in to the theme.

The production value is good. The voice and piano sound clear and are mixed well. With such a soft arrangement it’s important to capture even the most subtle nuances of the performance. Ichiko Aoba releases her music through her own label hermine, so everything is done in house and she knows the sound she wants. Very beautifully done.

Verdict: Must listen (4/5)

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