Shimatani Hitomi – Flare [7th Studio Album]

August 23, 2008 at 2:03 am (Shimatani Hitomi) (, )

Shimatani Hitomi’s 7th studio album, entitled Flare, was released on 07.16.08. The album was released before the following singles: Neva Eva, 深紅 / 愛の詩, 泣きたいなら and WAKE YOU UP /  雨の日には 雨の中を 風の日には 風の中を / Marvelous.

Opening up the album is Heavenly. There is a dance atmosphere for this song that combines with a cute feel to make this a very sweet opening track. With a 90s kind of sound, it does have a nice feeling to it although the chorus comes across as a bit winding and could’ve been cut down. Overall, it’s a nice song although it’s not the best opening track.

Start comes up next. The piano nicely supports her voice as an upbeat and happy atmosphere comes through, making the chorus very nice. Following is a section of pure instrumentation that sounds very pretty and then the first verse comes in. Hitomi’s vocals are sweet and carry a sweetness to them that captures the listener. Hitomi then definitely brings a uptempo sweetness on Start, making it a very enjoyable song to listen to from start to finish.

Following is 雨の日には 雨の中を 風の日には 風の中を. It’s a nice midtempo number with the beat standing out to the listener nicely. The pronounciation of the words on the chorus makes it really sound great and memorable. On the pure instrumental section, the song really shines on its prettiness. It’s a very nice addition to the album and Hitomi sounds great here.

The fifth song, Dita, carries an interesting sound with a French sound. The song stands out from the rest of the album for trying a new sound although it isn’t a particularly capturing song. 

深紅 is the next song. The song starts off with a very pretty uptempo instrumental that is heavenly and then the first verse comes in. Her vocals carry a slight deepness to them that actually works very well with the music. The chorus stands out nicely as her voice loses the deeper feeling and she shows more power. On the pure instrumental section, there is a real beauty to the music that catches the listener’s ear and the following chorus features a slight disortion on her vocals to put an emphasis on the music. Released as a single, it definitely hasn’t lost any steam from its release.

The sixth song on the album is 泣きたいなら. The song opens up with a very pretty instrumental that perfectly communicates emotion. Soon the first verse comes in and her vocals carry such a sweetness and fragileness that comes across so beautifully to the listener. A more complex instrumentation helps the chorus stand out strongly. Following is a very pretty instrumental section that continues to catch the listener’s ear. Hitomi does a fantastic song at bringing beautiful vocals to support the song’s very sweet atmosphere, making this song one to listen to.

Dear… appears as the album’s seventh number. Beginning the song is a sweet jazzy instrumentation that catches the listener’s ear, introducing the song perfectly. The first verse comes in and Hitomi delivers some very smooth vocals that carry that jazz sound strongly and the vocalizing in the background is a very nice touch. Things nicely pick up on the chorus, which features a more slightly more upbeat sound as Hitomi has a certain poppiness to her voice that stands out against the music. This song is definitely one of the most memorable tracks on the album and certainly is worth the listen.

Up next is 太陽の Flare. The song begins with a very sleek and cool instrumental that begins a little slow and soon picks up strongly, creating a light and free atmosphere that resonates with the listener. Hitomi then comes in with the first verse and her vocals are a little deeper here but compliment the music very nicely. On the chorus, the energy picks up again as the instrumentation really shines although Hitomi’s vocals could have been a little stronger. The pure instrumental section is absolutely heavenly as there is a slight rock flare that stands out, spotlighting the guitar. Overall, it’s the instrumentation that is the song’s strong point and although Hitomi does hold her own on the song, stronger vocals could have brought this song to the next level.

Released as a single before the album is WAKE YOU UP, which is the next song. An aggressive and addictive instrumental sequence opens the song up strongly although the backing vocals are very unnecessary. Hitomi then comes through with the first verse and her vocals sound very nice here, comlimenting the music perfectly. The chorus is more poppy which makes it memorable from the rest of the song and its repetition serves as a nice stand out. Closing the song is the aggressive instrumentation that opened it and it still sounds fantastic. WAKE YOU UP is a very enjoyable song that the listener can enjoy.

Shake it up! keeps the upbeat spirit while taking it down a little from the last track. Opening the song is an interesting and upbeat instrumentation that soon takes on a sparkling pop sound as Hitomi sings a line. Her vocals are very sweet here and the music does a nice job of establishing a very light atmosphere. There is a more relaxing feel on the first verse as Hitomi continues to deliver smooth vocals. Then it picks up for the chorus, which stands out as the most interesting part of the song with slightly stronger vocals and a more upbeat and fun instrumental. There is a slight jazzy sound that comes out on the pure instrumental section and it really sounds great. Shake it up! certainly features a fun and nice sound to make the listener enjoy from start to finish with a particular emphasis on the chorus.

The album’s semifinale is Neva Eva. A cool and upbeat instrumental, with jazzy influences begins the song and makes a smooth transition into the first verse. Hitomi’s vocals carry such a sleekness to them that compliments the music perfectly that the listener can’t help but love it. She continues to sound great on the chorus, even reaching a little higher vocally and hitting her notes strongly and the closing note is held with power and control. The pure instrumental section really shines here as the aggression of the music, which is one of the song’s strongest points, is spotlighted. For strong vocals and a more aggressive instrumental, Neva Eva stands out as the strongest number on the album and is definitely worth listening to.

Marvelous closes the album on a fun note. The song starts off with an upbeat piano-driven instrumental that carries a sweet prettiness. Hitomi sings her way through the first verse with smooth vocals, which makes the verses strong connectors. However it’s the chorus that makes the song so memorable, particularly when she sings the title of the song. Marvelous is a very nice way to end the album, keeping a very sweet atmosphere.

Album Ranking: A –

Flare certainly offers some enjoyable tracks although many of them are singles. Neva Eva serves as the album’s strongest tracks with 深紅, 泣きたいなら and WAKE YOU UP standing out as great numbers. Luckily some of the album tracks like Dear… and 太陽の Flare are capturing. Overall, it’s a nice package and some of these songs are some of the more memorable ones from Hitomi and she certainly tries her hand at some new sounds.

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