I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Yumi Seino -- Natural Woman

Another recent acquisition is Yumi Seino's(清野由美)"Natural Woman" from 1981. I first found out about her through some of her songs that got onto YouTube in the last couple of years, all through her third album "Continental" from 1983. But what finally had me pulling the trigger on my credit card was hearing her lovely cover of Yumi Arai/Hi-Fi Set's(荒井由実・ハイ・ファイ・セット)"Sky Restaurant"(スカイレストラン)which is indeed a track on "Natural Woman". I was about as surprised as anyone else that "Natural Woman" could actually be purchased at CD Japan, and I wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I picked it up lickety-split.

The bad news is that Yumi Seino's output on YouTube is almost only represented by her "Continental" tracks, except for "Sky Restaurant", of course. However, I was talking with commenter Daemonskald last night through my recent article "Some Pages to Make You Happy by Commenters", and he mentioned about the site Hip Tank Records with its wealth of information and song excerpts. I had heard about HTR and I've even linked to some of the pages through other articles, and I will be doing the same over here since the site does have "Natural Woman" represented with a few excerpts of the tracks. Of course, I will be writing about the songs that can be listened to in part.

Track No. 1 is "You & I", a cool and slick City Pop piece that has Seino tripping the light fantastic with her voice. The song has all the tropes for the genre: funky synths, soaring strings and sexy sax. Plus there is that overall feeling of a night in Tokyo in 1981. Man, do I miss those early nights in the metropolis during my graduation trip! Shinzo Higurashi(日暮真三)took care of the lyrics while singer-songwriter Yoichi Takizawa(滝沢洋一)provided the great music.

"Summer Hotel"(サマーホテル)is as the title says...a musical trip to a luxury resort inn along the coast with a young lady leaning languidly against the balcony railing while taking in the view. There is some Latin mixed into this one like some lemon zest in a cocktail, and I think I even heard a whiff of Boz Scaggs material. Again, like the city-based "You & I", the resort-based "Summer Hotel" brings some nice sense of nostalgia. Ayumi Date and Naoya Matsuoka(伊達歩・松岡直也)created this track.

The last track I can cover tonight is the last track for "Natural Woman", "Midnight Blue", a little bit of a reggae strut to end the proceedings with Machiko Ryu's(竜真知子)lyrics hinting at a late-night visitor coming to the door. I do like the boss baritone saxophone which starts things off and the seeming salaciousness of the arrangements. We can all thank Akira Inoue(井上鑑)who came up with the melody. Usually my feeling is that the final track of a typical Japanese pop album is showcased by an introspective ballad. Not this time...this is far steamier.

Another happy acquisition in "Natural Woman". With Seino, I get this feeling of a voice reminiscent of Meiko Nakahara(中原めいこ)or Yasuha(泰葉)tackling a range going from City Pop to mellower fare covered by Ruiko Kurahashi(倉橋ルイ子). At this rate, I may just have to get "Continental" and her debut album "U-TA-GE", if only to complete the set and to be able to talk about some of her stuff that's on YouTube.

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