Back in the 1980s, it was all about getting albums by Hiromi Iwasaki（岩崎宏美）, Seiko Matsuda（松田聖子）, Anzen Chitai（安全地帯）, etc....the singers I knew and was comfortable with since living in Toronto made things rather hard in terms of logistics and finances to get adventurous. Also, Wah Yueh and some of the other shops in Chinatown were thinking the same thing since they also sold basically the LPs and cassette tapes of the superstars. We were all happy for that.
But when I started living in Japan from the mid-90s, accessibility was a whole lot easier obviously and I could now afford to look around for some new blood, so to speak. There was the intriguing UA, the cool and funky Sing Like Talking and the romantic Toko Furuuchi（古内東子）. Somewhere along my forays into the various CD shops, I also discovered a singer by the name of Izumi Kato（加藤いづみ）.
It just so happened that while I was browsing in one of the shops, probably Tower Records, I heard this melodic voice softly singing a ballad with a slight bossa nova touch. It was called "French Kiss" and it was the title track to Kato's 5th album from July 1995. Strange for me to say, but I was enchanted by Kato's whisperiness (yes, I fully realize that this isn't a real word) and bought the album. In fact, I've bought a couple of more albums by her since then.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find "French Kiss" anywhere on the Net for listening but I did find one of her earlier songs that brought her prominence. "Suki ni natte, Yokatta" (I'm Happy That You Love Me) was Kato's 6th single from July 1993 which also got onto a BEST album that I managed to purchase, "Izumi - Singles & More" from 1994.
Watching the video above and hearing the song, I realized that the way she sang and the way she even enunciated the lyrics reminded me of Chisato Moritaka（森高千里）to a small extent. However, Kato's songs always struck me as being the soft cafe-friendly types. They were songs that would be listened to by folks who didn't necessarily want to be known as always going for the Top 10 stuff. It's quietly cool to listen to Izumi Kato.
"Suki ni natte, Yokatta" was written and composed by Ken Takahashi（高橋研）who had worked on a number of ALFEE's hits back in the 80s such as "Marie Anne"（メリーアン）and "STARSHIP" and composed tunes for many aidoru in the same decade. So it was a bit of a revelation to find out that it was Takahashi who was behind this ballad which has Kato not going into a major emotional tear but instead sing about the discovery of love quietly and with some relief.
As for Kato, she was born in Ehime Prefecture on the island of Shikoku in 1968, and made her debut in 1991 with the single, "Zero" (although she had released a previous single, "Kaze no Fantasia" the year before under the name Sherry). A couple of years later, the subject song for this article was used in the 1993 Fuji-TV drama "Akuma no Kiss"（悪魔のキッス...Devil's Kiss）which gained her a breakthrough. Up to now, she has released 19 singles and 13 original albums. Kato has also helped as a backup singer on tours for fellow singers like Yumi Matsutoya（松任谷由実）and Kazumasa Oda（小田和正）.