Ayumi Hamasaki: ‘My Story’ – Album Review

hamasakiayumi-mystory

Released: December 14, 2004

Okay, so here’s the thing: I’ve been a fan of Ms. Ayumi for quite a while now, especially with previous discoveries of some… uhh, absolute BANGERS, throughout her career. From the harmless strengths of A Song For xx, to the un-denying dance and rock efforts of her most recent records, all her efforts have been a mixture of excellent to stinking bad. My Story, her self-proclaimed “personal record”, was a stinker to me. I couldn’t help the fact that many of her core audience members enjoyed this album more than her FIRE-HOT records such as Loveppears or I Am…. To me, I felt this was an unimpressive collection of fillers that had splotches and splashes of some good material.

Looking back at it now… damn, was I wrong to say that. I guess that was the issue; I overlooked the good elements by observing the crap sections, which is a complete “beginner-of-buying-an-album” moment. The single material, which boasts the heartfelt ballads “Moments” and “Carols”, and the hip-hop inspired “Inspire” (no pun intended y’all), were definitely the best offerings here, showcasing an impressive range of arrangements and vocal performances. And even the first four tracks on the album; the gritty rock anthems (yes, no album made by Ayumi-chan shall forget the harder anthems), were reminiscent momentums from her past work.

Having said this, the most impressive stance that this record has to offer is in fact Ayumi herself. The vulnerability in her song writing has grown so well, that even tracks like “Carols” and “Moments” shines to its maximum potential—sometimes over. Ayu’s vocals, for the first time in my notebook, has also… and I can’t believe I’m saying this… actually works effortlessly with the sound, which is a lot more natural and flowing than her previous work. For example; when you listen to songs like “About You”, “Happy Ending”, “Carols”, “Honey” or “Replace”, everything is in proper proportion. I mean, yes it’s generic J-pop compositions that has spread out throughout all her albums like a messy display of butter on a piece of toast, but as I mentioned, it all works on this record because Ms. Ayu doesn’t try SOOOOO damn hard; every number runs smoothly like melted butter…. Hmmmmmm, yum.

But if you want anything fresh or innovative, giving the fact that this is her sixth album in, then don’t be preaching for the heavens above, because My Story is still, and will always, be displayed as a decent record of the J-pop genre. It’s nothing out of the ordinary for Ayumi in terms of sound, but neither is it pushing the boundaries—which is a small issue I’ve had with her career post-Rainbow. Thankfully, it does show an enduring maturity in her song writing and voice. Who the heck am I kidding? It’s probably her most vocally and lyrically improved album in her long-spanning career! But overall, if you want a Japanese album that soaks in sudden melancholy yet has a beautiful manipulation of heart wrenching performances by a top Japanese artist, then My Story is nothing but a fresh cup of tea!

Track list (Bold means Best tracks)

  1. Catcher in the Light
  2. About You ~Liam’s favorite~
  3. GAME
  4. my name’s WOMAN
  5. WONDERLAND
  6. Liar
  7. HOPE or PAIN
  8. HAPPY ENDING
  9. Moments
  10. walking proud
  11. Carols
  12. Kaleidoscope
  13. INSPIRE
  14. HONEY
  15. Replace
  16. winding road
  17. Humming 7/4

 

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