alan – my life [2nd Studio Album]

February 24, 2010 at 12:39 am (alan) (, )

alan’s 2nd studio album, entitled my life, was released on 11.25.09. The singles preceding the album are as follows: 久遠の河, BALLAD ~名もなき恋のうた~ and Swear.

The album opens up with reflection ~overture,~ an amazing introductory track as strong as the one of her first album. It begins with the soft sounds of the harp accompanied by an atmosphere that feels very spacey, slowly drawing the listener into a whole new world before the vocals come in. Here, the instrumentation takes a slight change and suits the vocals quite well. It’s kind of hard to understand what she is singing but the combination of the music and her voice makes it irrelevant. In the last fifteen seconds, the song takes on a very cool dance feel that is really intriuging. It’s a fantastic way to start things off and this could have made an amazing full song.

The first full song on the album is Swear, the last single released beforehand. It features a tiny difference in terms of beginning from the single version before part of the chorus comes in. alan’s voice sounds heavenly and the instrumentation features a beauty that only enhances it. Then comes the first verse and there is a very natural atmosphere that comes through alongside a certain cuteness that fits alan very well. This positive vibe of the music matches the lyrics perfectly, instilling something special inside of the listener. The pure instrumental sequence features probably the most grabbing part of the entire song. There is just someting almost magical about the way the music sounds at this point that the listener can’t help but fall in love. Swear hasn’t lost even a touch of its twinkle since its single release and it keeps the strength of the album rolling.

Up next is One. Beginning the song is a nice and calming instrumental that gives the atmosphere of a relaxing night. After a few vocalizations, alan comes in on the first verse. There is something particularly capturing about her voice on this song that really draws the listener in. She sort of whispers some of the words, giving a more intimate feel that really suits the atmosphere and ties the whole song together. The chorus smoothly continues the flow from the verses and the vocals here a little more prominent to make sure it stands out. The pure instrumental section is absolutely beautiful and the sounds of the guitar really instill a strong change for the listener to enjoy. One definitely has the intimate sort of atmosphere that alan works well with and keeps the flow of the album as a whole.

The sounds of the piano compliment the gracefulness of the next song, 見つめていたい. That opening instrumental is probably the strongest part of the song as whole. There is just a delicate beauty that comes through and captures the essence of the song. Following is the first verse and immediately alan’s vocals communicate a deep sorrow for the listener to feel and empathize with. It would have been nice to have a little more variety in the chorus because it comes off as a little repetitive with her repeating the song’s title so much. Nonetheless, it still holds that soothing element that the listener can enjoy. The pure instrumental sequence is nice just for the slight change in the music and we are treated to some very beautiful and high notes from alan. This then follows through on the last chorus and that slight change in tone makes a world of difference. Just as the song began with beautiful instrumentation, it also closes the song for a perfect finish. It may be simplistic but that is part in why the song is so charming.

涙, a B-side of the first album’s era, was remixed and given the name 涙 (Smooth Jam Mix). It begins a nice and soft instrumental that feels very relaxing, much like the previous track. Then comes the first verse and as usual, alan’s vocals are wonderful although it suffers from a lack of power behind the instrumentation. It’s nice but it’s missing that extra “oomph” to really draw in the listener. On the chorus, there is more of an upbeat feeling than the one from the single release. Unfortunately, the song sounds better as a straight ballad so it feels like this new mix is somewhat “off.” The choice to include this song on the album seems strange and they would have been better off including a new song in its place. It’s not bad but it’s really not album material.

Lost Child appears as the sixth song on the album. There is such a pretty refreshing instrumental in the beginning that it feels like taking a deep breath of the calm wind. It stands out with the beat that comes through, continuously catching the listener’s attention. On the verses, alan’s vocals are fantastic and it feels like she’s telling a story, lulling the listener into the world of the song. The chorus keeps up the song’s strength, particularly with the English phrases “so crazy” and “crazy for you.” Lost Child doesn’t seem like the song alan would come with coming from her first album but she pulls off the style perfectly and definitely should try more songs like this in the future.

Butterflies follows with a very pretty uplifting sound. The song starts off with the sounds of the harp before other instruments are added, all working together to form a cohesive and natural sound. Soft music like this really compliments alan’s voice, highlighting the heavenly traits that make her so amazing. The backing vocals in the hook actually add something to the song, giving it just that extra bit of magic. Overall, the chorus is nice but it’s nothing spectacular and this can be saidof the song as a whole. it’s a very pretty song but it would have been nice to push the song a little more past “just pretty.”

Things take a very interesting turn with the following song, Essence of me. The focus of the song is on the music, which carries a cool trance element to it that alan has never explored before. The vocals are mostly modified or altered in terms of pitch so they run secondary to the music and that’s actually an okay decision. The music here is just so addictive that it draws the listener into a whole new world. Plus, it’s one of alan’s more creative works so it really does stand out on the album.

Following in the same vein of Essence of me, Call my name keeps the energy going. The opening instrumental introduces an enjoyable dance atmosphere before alan comes in with the hook. She repeats “are you ready; across the border” before diving into the first verse. Her vocals are great on the first verse and are complimented by the music. English phrases like “all my love” and “fall my love” stand out near the ends of the verses, as does the last vocals, which echo in perfect introduction of the chorus. As expected, she sounds great on the chorus and provides vocals that continue to capture the listener. For showing that alan can handle this dance sound without problems, Call my name emerges as one of the strongest songs on the entire album.

Then things slow down with the next song, 白い翼. It begins with a calm instrumental with the sounds of the acoustic guitar as the focus, creating a nice natural sound. alan’s vocals on the first verse and very nice and fit perfectly with the music because there is a sort of whimsical element that comes through. The chorus stands out as the msuic builds a little more as does alan’s vocals but it would have been nice to put a little more power behind the instrumentation. If it was a little grander than the song would have really shined. This is where the pure instrumental section succeeded so well. The beauty really comes flowing forward to entice the listener. If the song had carried more of this atmosphere, then it would have been one of the stronger songs. Overall though, it’s a nice listen that fits with the calm atmosphere of alan’s heart.

That grand sound comes beautifully with Nobody knows but me. After a gorgeous piano instrumental that immediately introduces the sorrow, alan sings the first verse. her vocals fit with the music wonderfully, bringing that sorrow to life with every syllable. The English phrase “my love” adds a nice touch to things and those final vocals of the verse really stay on the listener’s mind. Strength continues on the chorus, especially when she goes lower for one note and then builds upward to finish. That range really catches the ear and prepares the listener for the hook, which is in all English. She sings “nobody knows but me that sometimes I cry” and while that sounds somewhat awkward, it does keep the sorrow in check. With wonderful vocals and an atmosphere that touches the listener, Nobody knows but me is one of the album’s diamonds.

BALLAD ~名もなき恋のうた~ comes up next. After a hauntingly beautiful opening of heavenly vocalizations, alan puts some more power behind them and the first verse starts. The verses are quite calming and feature a relaxing sound that is accentuated by the piano. But on the choruses, that haunting atmosphere comes back and demands attention. This effect is particularly achieved on the second chorus, when she sings the title of the song. Following is the pure instrumental section which higlights the beauty before diving into the chorus one final time. It’s a great song that finds home on the album.

The album’s semifinale is the grand number 久遠の河. The song begins with an amazing instrumental that has a fairy-tale tone to it that will grab the listener’s attention. This fits with the rest of the song because the rest of the song feels like a tale being brought to life by alan. Her vocals on the verses are calm but carry lots of emotion, particularly on the last ones whic are held so well. This introduces the chorus well and spotlights the first line, which is one of the standout members of the entire song. And alan brings back her wail on the third chorus, which is the only time it appears on the album. This song was dazzling when it was released as a single and it hasn’t lt any of its magic.

The album’s title track is the one that brings the package to a close. alan sings with such grace and beauty on the first verse, complimeted by the simplicity of  instrumentation. With the calm sweetness of the verses, they make the chorus stand out all the more. It’s on the choruses that alan is allowed to belt out her emotions and really capture the listener’s heart. The grand magic will leave an amazing impression. Overall the song is somewhat simple but it’s so beautiful that the listener will definitely feel chills.

Album Ranking: A +

There has been a lot of criticism of alan’s second album, particularly in relation to her first. But there is a lot on this album that makes it shine. alan experiments with new sounds on songs like Essence of me and Call my name, both songs two of the strongest numbers on the entire album. There are a lot of calming songs that really suit alan’s mood and there are grand ballads that are undeniably beautiful. Swear and Lost Child have a nice upbeat pace to them that alan should try more of.  Perhaps this album isn’t as strong as the first one, which had a greater variety but felt more cohesive in terms of style. But my life is certainly nothing to just write off as a sophomore slump. In my opinion, alan has yet to fail.

Top 6 Memorable Tracks: Swear / Essence of me / Call my name / Nobody knows but me / 久遠の河 / my life

Advertisements

7 Comments

  1. carlenne said,

    Wow, glad to see you’re back, and also glad to see that there is at least one review out there that doesn’t totally bag this album. It’s a lovely listen, imo.

  2. sakurayume said,

    Very nice work! I’ll be sure to keep reading your reviews!

  3. lycor1s said,

    I’ve read so many horrible reviews of this album to the point that I’m afraid to listen to it lol. I think I might give it a shot now though =D

  4. Anna said,

    I’m so happy you’re doing reviews again!
    Your reviews make me enjoy the music more, because lift out things that I wouldn’t hear otherwise.

    So thank you!

    I really liked alan’s album by the way more than everyone else I think, but not as much for a A+ but for the most part it was indeed very great!

  5. kurumi said,

    I don’t think this album was quite deserving of an A+… : /

  6. pommy48 said,

    ♥ I love your reviews! And we haven’t talked in so long @_@ is alan-world just down forever?

    but anyways~ if you’re ever in need of an alan forum 😉
    http://alan-international.forumotion.com/index.htm
    hope to see you there ♥

  7. cr1st3ll3 said,

    I’m glad someone is still willing to give Alan credit for experimenting. I didn’t like it as much as her first album, but I think this album is great in its own right. You’re very articulate in your reviews… hope to see more soon!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: