What I’ve been listening to this week:
Jodeci – Forever My Lady (1991)
Following in the footsteps of Boyz II Men, Guy and New Edition, Jodeci helped forge a new sound for R&B. Their debut album, Forever My Lady, managed to capture the attention of listeners outside of R&B. This is attributed to group member and producer Devante Swing who drew influence from hip-hop and new jack swing. This gave the album mass appeal, bouncing from smooth and emotional to visceral and upbeat. The production is undoubtedly praise worthy, but the singers’ elevate it to new heights. Their vocal performances are powerful and emotional, which isn’t shocking, because they grew up singing gospel. I enjoyed the vocal arrangement and layering, especially on I’m Still Waiting – the standout track. Overall, this is a classic album which set the standard for future R&B acts.
Persona 5 Original Soundtrack (2016)
Shoji Meguro is a talented video game composer. His versatility is impressive but it never felt engaging enough. He usually picks style over substance, leaving a lot to be desired. The Persona 5 soundtrack is different. It’s definitely stylish but has more weight than his previous work. There’s also a new vocalist, Lyn, who adds some additional soul to the soundtrack. I loved Shihoko Hirata, but I think Lyn’s voice fits the jazzy composition and overall mood on here (I’m also tired of watered-down J-pop music). This is arguably the best soundtrack in the series; This is Shoji Meguro’s magnum opus.
Jun Togawa – 20th (2000)
I recently discovered Jun Togawa while browsing for obscure 80’s music. Experimental and quirky, she’s a stark contrast to most J-pop artists. Her songs are often hit-or-miss but she makes up for it with how fascinating she is. Listening to her music is…fun? 20th is a collection of covers to celebrate her 20th anniversary in the industry. ラジオのように, the jazz-infused cover of Brigitte Fontaine’s Comma a la radio has an infectious rhythm. It’s weird yet catchy. Things hit avant-garde levels on the electronic Finale before entering pop territory on Vanessa Paradis’s Joe le Taxi. It’s a strange musical ride yet I enjoyed it. Jun’s voice is unique but can be unbearable, especially on tracks like Because the Night – a Patti Smith cover – with its scathing, obnoxious production. Togawa is an acquired taste. I’d only recommend her if you listen to music that requires headphones at all times.