Aoyama Thelma – DIARY [Debut Studio Album]

April 6, 2008 at 5:05 pm (Aoyama Thelma) (, )

Aoyama Thelma’s debut album, entitled DIARY, was released on 03.26.08. Only two singles preceded this album release: ONE WAY and そばにいるね  featuring SoulJa.

The album begins with the My Beginning, an small track to properly introduce the album. The song consists of a beautiful piano melody that runs through as Thelma speaks in flawless English. As she speaks the last line “this is my…diary,” her tone on “diary” sounds a bit flat and without any instrumentation left to cushion it, the track ends without much punch. While the music is beautiful, the words kind of clashed and thus the introduction was not as strong as it should have been.

The first full song on the album is the smash success そばにいるね featuring SoulJa. The song opens up with a soft and sweet instrumentation followed by the chorus, which features some nice vocals from Thelma as she delivers the lines with some quick speed. The first verse is so similar to the chorus that it doesn’t really stand apart until SoulJa comes in and uses some smooth sounds that compliment the music perfectly. The purely instrumentation section is wonderful and is easily the best part of the track. Overall the song is so simple and borderlines on boring. There isn’t enough diversity behind the instrumentation and while SoulJa breaks up the song with some smooth vocals, Thelma sounds relatively monotone. It wasn’t the smartest choice to pick as the first full song on the album.

Both singles come back to back with ONE WAY appearing next. Opening up with a relaxing and smooth caribbean smooth, it quickly changes into an upbeat track while maintaining the same sound. The vocals arrive with the chorus, which is catchy and Thelma compliments the music so well that it comes off effortlessly. The verse doesn’t lose any steam from the chorus as she shows her vocal prowess without belting. The third verse has Thelma singing in a quick pace that kind of sounds like a singing-rapping that gives he song even more flavor. After, she shows off her voice by hitting a very nice note. ONE WAY is an excellent and uptempo track that shows Thelma’s versatility.

Following ONE WAY is My dear friend. The track opens up strong and soothing with the chorus with some impressive vocals from Thelma that compliment the slightly uptempo sound of the instrumentation. Soon, the tempo is slowed down but the vocals still support well. The chorus picks up the tempo and this time, more instrumentation is present. Although the first chorus sounded nicer, this one still sounds good. The song then ends with some wonderful instrumentation that brings a perfect close. My dear friend is definitely one of the memorable songs on the album.

Next is Last Letter, one of the many album ballads. Following an average instrumentation is the first verse, which features some nice vocals that go with the chorus. The chorus gives more vocal power but sounds too similar to the verses in terms of instrumentation and the vocals aren’t powerful enough to really seperate it as being truly strong. The third verse is a nice change of pace with the way that Thelma delivers the lines so it stands stronger and ends with an excellent note that showcases the power behind Thelma’s voice. The same instrumentation supported by ad-libbing finishes off the song but unfortunately it doesn’t give the great climax that was hoped for. Last Letter is a nice song but a bit boring and more diversity behind the instrumentation might have made it even stronger.

Picking up the tempo from Last Letter is リズム. The song begins with a nice and smooth beat that has an uptempo feel to it. The chorus is really nice and Thelma’s vocals work well with the music. The transition into the first verse is great and she sounds nice here. Although the tempo is nice and her vocals are nice, it never really steps up from being nice and goes to being great. The chorus without all of the instrumenation really sounds nice as it puts emphasis on her voice, which is undeniably strong. Overall the song is a bit lacking and comes across as slightly boring.

Next is GOOD TIME REMIX featuring Miku (from YA-KIM). The song is uptempo but still has a slow element to it that clashes a bit and makes the true genre of the song hard to determine. The chorus is a bit boring and features English lyrics but makes a good transition into the first verse. Unfortunately, the song doesn’t really pick up from the chorus and still comes across as slightly boring. Miku’s rap isn’t as great as hoped so overall the song definitely feels like it’s lacking something.

A truly uptempo track arrives with HIGHER. From the opening instrumentation, the dance atmosphere is established. Following is the chorus which features some English lines and some great vocals. The verses particularly stand out becaue Thelma’s voice sounds so good in conjunction with the hot dance beat. The third verse continues the strength behind the song featuring some great vocals and a rolling instrumentation. HIGHER is the strongest song on the album and its placement in the middle was wise to break up the softer songs.

The midtempo songs return with Paradise. The chorus starts off the song in a nice way and there is a certain island feel that works with the song well. The first verse works well with the song and makes a good transition into the chorus. Paradise is a really nice track but it has a certain “been there, done that” feel, which makes it again sound a bit lacking.

This Day features Dohzi-T for a poppy song that begins with twinkling and flutes as well as jingle bells that creates a great atmosphere. However Thelma comes in singing in such a high voice during the chorus that it clashes with the sweet instrumentation. Putting a Christmas song may seem a bit strange in the middle of the album but it’s by no means a bad song. Dozhi-T does absolutely nothing for this song since it sounds almost bored as he recorded this. This song is pretty weak and pretty boring and it really should have been removed from the album.

このままで is a piano ballad that begins with Thelma speaking in English and then she sings “you are my baby.” From that line alone, there is such emotion in her voice that it’s capturing. The first verse features some soft but great vocals that support the beautiful instrumentation. The chorus is beautiful and the emotions come even stronger than before as she sings. Although the album features many slow songs, this one is the best offering.

Another slow song comes with あなたに会えてよかった. The transition from the last song to this one is good and the song is actually a nice offering. The relaxing atmosphere behind the instrumentation as well as Thelma’s soft vocals really create a song perfect to listen to with closed eyes. One problem is that the song is really long and perhaps if it were shortened, the listening experience would be even more enjoyable.

The personal song ママへ comes next. There is an element of hope behind the instrumentation that is nice and Thelma’s vocals go with it but overall the song isn’t as strong as it seems it would be. Perhaps it is the placement of the song following such a long list of ballads but the song doesn’t stand apart, especially as the penultimate track.

The album ends with the title track, DIARY. This track features the piano as the integral instrument but the spotlight is more on Thelma’s vocals. Once again, the track sounds boring and its placement as the final song was not a wise decision.

Album Ranking: C

DIARY is certainly a soft album as it is filled with midtempo songs / ballads. Given Thelma’s range, the album should have featured more diversity. Only a handful of songs are upbeat and those [HIGHER and ONE WAY] are really where she shines. There is an overuse of the piano being the central instrument within the ballads, which makes the album seem like it’s dragging on at points. Hopefully Thelma’s next effort will feature some more diversity since she definitely has the voice to pull it off.

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