During my usual translation work today, I put in "Light Mellow - Twilight" into the player for a second round, and I found myself starting to really like Track 1 which was "Maware Maware" (Turn, Turn) by Atsuko Hiyajo（比屋定篤子）.
I had come across that name before in kanji although I didn't quite know how to read it at the time. Once again, it was through my curious searches for City Pop that I had yet to hear on YouTube that I first found the name. But it wasn't until I got "Light Mellow - Twilight" that I finally got to hear the pearly tones of Ms. Hiyajo, and in fact, I was only able to read the name finally by finding her official website.
Hiyajo, who has enjoyed singing since she was a little girl, hails from Okinawa and when she was attending Musashino Art University in the suburbs of Tokyo, she entered a circle which focused on the study of Latin music. It was from there that she got involved in a band with her as vocalist. During her time at university, she also met Jiro (or Haruo) Kobayashi（小林治郎）who was trying to become a composer, and the two started picking up gigs at the live houses in the Big Sushi. In 1997, she made her debut and it was with her 2nd album in 1999, "Sasayakareta Yume no Hanashi" (Talk of the Whispered Dream) that "Maware Maware" became a track. Hiyajo wrote the lyrics while Kobayashi composed the music.
There is some very nice and sunny groove going on with "Maware Maware" which makes it a fine tonic during the current winter and a good accompaniment for the later summer. The arrangement for the original song also had me thinking a bit of Shibuya-kei, and with Hiyajo's vocals, the band paris match in particular.
In the decade since, Hiyajo has put out a number of albums but in 2009, she had a collaboration with groovy band Ryusenkei（流線型）via the album "Natural Woman" and in that release, she and the band put out a new version of "Maware Maware" which, as one commenter put it, sounded a bit more in the TOTO vein (the band, not the toilet). Both versions sound just plummy to me.