Namie Amuro: ‘Play’ – Album Review

play-cddvd

Released: June 27, 2007

Having over 15 years’ experience in the music industry can sometimes give you a bit of the wear and tear factors to your career. With exceptions of pop’s biggest names, such as Mariah Carey, Madonna, and Kylie Minogue, many other’s either become the back burners of pop or just sometimes become more mature and bow gracefully for the new age to bowl threw. J-Pop stars, however, will do their very best to stay relevant and in the J-pop scene, with the exception of Mr. Children, B’z, and Hikaru Utada of course. But near the top of the on-going list is Namie Amuro, because, after the release of Play, she deserved this attention.

Play is, with all respects, her best album in years. Not only does it offer some bang on hits, but it compromises the molding of her R&B sound that she has been deciphering for since the start of her career. Just listen to “Hide and Seek”, “Can’t Sleep, Can’t Eat, I’m Sick”, “Top Secret”, and “Funky Town”; pure funk R&B perfection. Using this as a strong force, she re-invents other songs from the album with past experimented genres; the rock tinges on “It’s All About You”, and slick elements on “Step With it”, and the “part 2” of Queen of Hip-Pop sounds on “Top Secret”.

Alongside this, she brings back her Style heyday on the irresistible tracks “Hello” and “Pink Key”, and the Janet Jackson–esque “Should I Love Him?”. You get the occasional ballad “Baby Don’t Cry”, but this isn’t a bad or even good ballad; it’s an amazingly effortless one. Not only does this album offer a good mixture of genres, but it also showcases some of her best vocals to date. Her vocals on nearly every track fits like a glove. But the only bum track is “Violet Sauce (Spicy)”, which sounds completely out of place here. But overall, Play is a pretty wicked offering by Namie herself. If Style and Queen of Hip-Hop were the molding of Namie Amuro’s new sound, then Play is the finishing sculpture. In fact, it’s a near masterpiece.

Track list (Bold means best tracks)

  1. Hide & Seek
  2. Full Moon
  3. Can’t Sleep, Can’t Speak, I’m Sick
  4. It’s all about you
  5. FUNKY TOWN
  6. Step With It!
  7. HELLO ~Liam’s favorite~
  8. Should I Love Him?
  9. Top Secret
  10. Violet Sauce (Spicy)
  11. Baby Don’t Cry
  12. Pink Key

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