alan – Voice Of EARTH [Debut Studio Album]

March 14, 2009 at 5:12 pm (alan) (, )

voiceofearth

alan’s debut studio album, entitled Voice Of EARTH, was released on 03.04.09. The album comes after a slew of singles including all 5 singles of the Elemental Single Project as well as other ones. The singles released before the album are as follows: 明日への讃歌, ひとつ, 懐かしい未来 ~longing future,~ 空唄, 風の手紙, RED CLIFF ~心・戦,~ 恵みの雨 and 群青の谷. Liberty was used as the theme song for the dorama Hikon Doumei. The bonus track, Together, was composed by alan herself.

天女 ~interlude~ opens up the album perfectly, introducing the listener to traditional Tibetan influences. The interlude begins with a very calming sound that really calms the listener and soon alan comes in with her vocals that reach beyond the sky. These sudden vocals do come as a bit of a surprise but they’re actually one of the best parts of the entire song. There’s just something so natural and mystical about them that the listener can’t help but love them. Then the song’s proud Tibetan influences come in and with the clear focus on the instrumentation rather than vocals, it is very reminiscent of sign, a B-side from alan’s second single. When she does sing, she actually does so in Tibetan, adding a certain flavor to the song. With more wonderful vocalizing in the background, everything is tied together perfectly. It may not feel much like an interlude, clocking in at over three minutes, but there could be no better way in opening up this album.

ashitaenewFollowing is alan’s debut single, 明日への讃歌. Opening the song is a little singing part which introduces the song beautifully. alan’s vocals are very smooth and pacifying and there is certain element of mystery to the instrumentation, which centers around traditional instruments. Then there is a small section of pure instrumentation in which the music becomes slightly more powerful and it makes a smooth transition into the first verse. She continues to give wonderful vocals so that a very natural atmosphere is established. But the best part of the song is the chorus, which might come as a surprise to the listener since alan’s stellar vocals seem to come out of nowhere. She holds her note with ease and her ability to communicate emotion is framed here. One part that stands out the most in this song is the end of the second chorus when she sings the title of the chorus. Those notes are just heavenly and have a way of sticking in the listener’s mind.

alan picks up the pace with the beautiful upbeat number, 空唄. The song begins with a great little section of sorautanewinstrumentation, decorated by Indian influences, which stand out to the listener. alan does a few vocalizations here and there that carry, really fitting with the image of the sky which the song represents. Next comes the first verse and between the calm instrumentation and alan’s smooth vocals, the listener really falls into a dreamy state. Before the chorus is one line and it serves as the transition between the verse and chorus. alan holds that last note and there is a little fanciful instrumental ascent, making way for the energy of the chorus. The English phrases “I can fly away” and “try again” really stand out as they are some of the few attempts alan makes at English and add to the overall free feeling that the more uptempo beats establishes. Things take a very interesting path on the pure instrumental section as the listener can alan’s fragmented voice repeating “I gotta…” and the usual levity of the music is brought down. It then comes shining brightly again when the chorus comes back again and alan gives more great vocals. The song ends with alan singing two lines and she sounds great as usual. The last word is sung without any musical accompaniment so that the focus is on her voice, which is a fantastic way to end. 空唄 was the one of the best releases from the 5 Elemental Single Project and it fits perfectly on Voice of EARTH.

natsukashiinew懐かしい未来 ~longing future~ communicates the element of Earth through a very natural instrumentation and soothing vocals. The song begins with the sound of some people laughing and what sounds like kids running around as a very pretty instrumental tracks slips through. alan then sings the first verse and her vocals are great as usual, maintaining that smoothness and beauty that stands out to the listener. On the chorus, she gives a stronger vocal performance as the emotions come through more strongly and in her voice alone, the listener can feel an atmosphere of hope rising. She then adds a little flavor to the song by doing her beautiful wail, matching the tone of the song perfectly. The pure instrumental section is absolutely amazing as alan plays the erhu and there’s just something very natural and true about that instrument that belongs with the song. Continuing the string of strong single tracks, 懐かしい未来 ~longing future~ hasn’t lost any of its magic from its single release. If anything, it sounds even better in the course of the album and sounds kind of like an album theme song.

ひとつ follows the same sort of mindset as alan sings about being connected to people around the world: that we are hitotsunewone. The beautiful sounds of the piano open up the song and quickly alan comes in for the first verse. She sounds great here and there’s a certain fragility in her vocals that really capture the listener, directing their attention to the emotional level of the song. As usual, the chorus offers alan the opportunity to show off those amazing vocals and she takes the chance in her hands well, particularly at the end when she sings the line including the title of the song. Following the chorus is a little section of pure instrumentation and the relaxing atmosphere really shines through. Finishing off the song is more pure instrumentation, to take the listener out of the song perfectly. It’s a great song with filled with emotion and beauty for the listener to enjoy from start to finish.

kazenew風の手紙 follows and is actually slightly edited from its release as a single. Beginning the song is a mysterious sound that inrigues the listener because of a coldness to it that evokes the picture of desolation. Then alan arrives and she sings part of the chorus over a cool instrumental track that does have a certain way of communicating the element of wind. Following is a section of pure instrumentation and that’s where the rock tints come out and spice up the music, which is welcomed because it stands out in alan’s discography. She then continues onto the first verse and gives more great vocals to catch the listener’s ear. More emotion emerges on the chorus as she gives stronger vocals. She closes the chorus with “the answer is blowing in the wind” and again, the English is very ear-catching. Near the end of the second verse, she sings “taxi driver” before going into a section of pure instrumentation. Here’s where the song was slightly edited because there is a small but noticeable cut of some of the music, which is really a shame because it’s one of the best parts of the entire song. She finishes the song off with some vocalizations, which do work with the whole element of wind quite well. For those last notes, it would have been nice if she reached higher and it would have been very effective as a final climax of sorts. It’s the final song in the slew of single tracks and it’s one of the most memorable and diverse songs on the album.

Probably the most intriguing track on the entire album is the uptempo number, BRAVE. With exotic elements driving this instrumental masterpiece and alan’s copious use of English, this song is incredible. Opening the song are a few very interesting moments of pure instrumentation before alan dives in part of the first verse. She sings “don’t you know? I just dreamed, oh by your side” and there’s something very magical both in her vocals and the instrumentation here that the listener can’t deny. Then the energy comes full force with some Indian influences driving the instrumetnation and a slight distortion that really works with alan’s vocals as she reaches a little higher. She continues on with great vocals and with the addictive nature of the music, it proves to be a truly dangerous combination. The hooks are interesting because of the English phases that finish off each line such as “long time” and “one love.” She sings these phrases with a certain freedom that sounds great. The hook features a calmer instrumentation and the English lines “I miss your voice” and “please! anyone reach for me,” which show the theme of longing. Featuring even more English, the chorus stands out strongly as the uptempo beat comes strongly again. She finishes with “I believe me, fighting for you” and there is something so powerful in that one statement that it cannot be ignored. The song finishes with the same distorted vocal section that proves so addictive throughout the song. Without a doubt, BRAVE, is one of the best offerings on the album and one that cannot be missed.

The beautiful 夢のガーデン is up next. Beginning the song is a very mysterious yet entrancingly beautiful instrumental that soon becomes associated with coldness. Instantly, so much emotion comes through and creates a dreamy state for the listener to enjoy. Then is the first verse and alan’s vocals go perfectly with the music, once again proving her ability to communicate so much through her voice alone. The chorus really stands out as the electric guitar has another chance at partaking the instrumentation and it creates a climax effect. She continues that at the end of the chorus when she holds that note with perfection. The erhu makes another appearance after the second chorus and it belongs here, adding to the unimaginable beauty of the song. This is another one of the album’s best offerings and an amazing new ballad album track.

gunjou2群青の谷, the final single released before the album, is the following song. Beginning the song is a sweet section of soft instrumentation and very pretty vocals from alan. Then the tempo picks up and the instrumentation becomes more diverse, for the listener to really fall into. She gives strong vocals and the uptempo beat tied in with traditional influences really suits alan’s voice. She gets to show off those great vocal chops on the chorus and the emotions hit the listener strongly. The pure instrumental section is wonderful because the gorgeousness of the music is shown off for all to hear. In the final chorus, alan gives some vocalizations that make this song so memorable. The song ends with a similar soft instrumental that began the song, tying the whole song together. This is one of the best singles released before the album and it’s a perfect fit on Voice of EARTH.  

And things are slowed back down with the next track, my friend. A very simple but sweet instrumentation begins the song and there’s something very natural that the listener can connect with at first listen. With the acoustic guitar serving as the primary instrument, the atmosphere drowsily comes alive just like a story. alan sounds strong on the first verse since her vocals are calm and match the relaxed atmosphere of the music. The chorus is nice as well altough there is no particular instrumental change to really build it up. When she sings “my friend,” it’s a phrase that stands out to the listener very nicely. The pure instrumental section is great because the music takes a slightly different turn and has a cool feeling to it. my friend may be the simplest offering on the album but there’s something very likeable and relatable about the song that makes it an enjoyable part of the album.

Liberty takes cues from the previous track although there is a lighter feeling to this one. Opening the song is a sweet instrumental that bears a striking similarity to the opening instrumental sequence of my friend. Moving into the first verse, alan’s vocals are at their usual smooth and pretty state, complimenting the overall music well. There’s something lighter and slightly more upbeat about the music in here that creates a noticeable difference between this song and the previous one. She holds a note sweetly and then she goes into the chorus. The instrumentation has a little bit more life in it and alan’s vocals are still great, catching the listener’s ear. There are a few notes from the electric guitar in those few seconds of pure instrumentation and they definitely don’t go unnoticed. They really come out to play on the pure instrumental section, which is probably responsible for making this song so memorable and wonderful as it is. There’s just something about it that makes the listener want to smile and that fits with the overall theme of the album. Liberty is a great track and although somewhat similar to my friend, it’s still quite the enjoyable number.

Up next is the gorgeous ballad, 月がわたし. With the piano starting the song off, immediately the emotions come rushing out and touch listener’s heart. Then alan sings in the first verse and just like always, alan does a great job of portraying emotion in her voice while keeping the smoothness that supports the music. During the verses, there are little strings of piano in descent of key, which evoke the image of water to suit the beautiful and graceful overall sound of the song. The chorus brings in a few traditional influences here and there and it’s just so magnificent that it might very well bring the listener to tears. Lyrically, the song is a masterpiece as the metaphor of alan being the moon is consistent throughout the entire song. Essentially, she sings that she is the moon watching over the person she loves (which can actually be interpreted as everyone in the world, fitting in with the theme of the album) and how she wants to take the pain away, lighting up the road to the future. It’s just an absolutely beautiful song that is one of the album’s best offerings.

RED CLIFF ~心・戦~ is the song representative of the fire element in the form of a beautiful ballad. The song begins redcliffnewwith alan doing some vocalizations and the fragility and peacefulness is almost haunting in combination of the ominous instrumentation. Following is a small section of pure instrumentation which continues that slightly haunting atmosphere, which leads perfectly into the first verse. alan’s vocals are wonderful and really stand out to the listener. What makes the song so grand and epic is the chorus, in which the emotions come pouring out. Just from listening, it’s clear that alan is singing from her heart and that’s something that is unforgettable. After the second chorus, alan gives her signature wail to beautifully calm the listener even more. More pure instrumental lead the listener out on a good way. It’s another wonderful ballad and one of alan’s most memorable numbers.

恵みの雨 is the song representing the element of water. Beginning the song is a very delicate instrumental, prompted by the sounds of the erhu. Then comes alan and her vocals here are very pretty and already, the emotional atmosphere of the song comes alive to really resonate with the listener. But those emotions are even stronger on the chorus as alan provides stronger vocals. Although she doesn’t go particularly higher, she manages to push the emotional envelope and make the listener take notice. Things take a slightly different turn on the final chorus as the instrumentation is higher and more powerful, matching alan’s even stronger vocals. With a true emotional contect, it’s no wonder that 恵みの雨 was included as the semifinale for the album.

Together, a song composed by alan herself, is the album’s finale as the first press limited edition bonus track. The song starts off with the sound of a drum and quickly, the instrumentation snakes its way into the track. alan provides some great vocals that are probably some of the smoothest on the album. Traditional elements also find their way to the music and they add a little flavor to the instrumentation. Probably a part of what makes this song memorable is that alan speaks and the listener can hear such calmness in her voice that suits the song perfectly. She shows off her vocals after the talking section and they add a little variety to the song. alan definitely deserves a round of applause for composing such a song herself and it’s a great way to close the album because it gives a true atmosphere that comes through the title.

Album Ranking: A +

Voice of EARTH is a collection of songs meant to unite the people of the world through the common thread of music. With the themes of peace and love surrounding the songs, alan’s personal philosophy is reflected so that a piece of her heart is really the cornerstone of the package. Eight singles were released before the album and offered some of the album’s best gems from the upbeat pop sensation 空唄 to the traditionally based 明日への讃歌 to the rock-influenced 風の手紙. From the new album tracks offered on Voice of EARTH, alan certainly proves her unmistakable talent. BRAVE is probably the album’s best song and it’s a great opportunity to see alan take on more upbeat sounds and be completely in her element. 夢のガーデン and 月がわたし are both beautiful ballads, each with their unique sound to really reflect alan’s heart. The only problem with Voice of EARTH is that is definitely could have had more diversity to it. It would have been nice to see more upbeat tracks to balance out all the ballads to give alan a more diverse repertoire. Nonetheless, Voice of EARTH is an amazing collection of songs that lives up to the long wait it’s taken to get here.

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4 Comments

  1. daniel said,

    great review of the album! i don’t usually listen to J-pop except maybe utada hikaru, but this is really good. I particularly love the earth theme and alan’s image presented in this album. I also love the chinese influence in a lot of the songs, which is a nice reflection of her origin. Besides the singles she released previously I must say the first track (opening) is one of my favorite! It’s a great way to start the album!

  2. Rob said,

    First heard Ashita e no Sanka on Marty Friedman’s cover album Tokyo Jukebox and had to check out where it came from. WOW. This stuff is dynamite.

  3. mehdi said,

    you are very beautiful.

  4. ♥nodame♥ said,

    This is an amazing album, and review 😀

    I was a little upset that the first track was an interlude, buuuuut I found the full version when she resang it for the Chinese release of this album. (Ashita e no Sanka in Chinese = love)

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