Review by Nhu Nguyen
Miu Sakamoto may not be as widely known as her famous musician parents, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Akiko Yano, but she is equally talented. On her new seventh album I’m yours!, she teams up with the producer of her fifth and sixth album, Dave Liang, of the electronic group The Shanghai Restoration Project. This album shows the pair creating another album full of beautiful, sophisticated electro pop music, sweetened with classical instruments and Sakamoto’s pure voice.
Sakamoto is gifted with a pretty, soprano voice, that noticeably gets smoother with each release, since she debuted in 1996 as “Sister M”. This is obvious from the start of I’m yours! Opening track, “Eyes”, is a beautiful, vocal warm-up exercise set over an ambient instrumental. Her oh’s and ah’s careen effortlessly. There is a mature and innocent tone in her voice, that makes it perfect for singing about love, the central theme of I’m yours! When delivering lyrics such as, “The moment I fell in love with you when I first saw you is without a doubt/ The reward I’ve been trying to live for”, in “Amai nioi”, her sincere feelings are conveyed through her unaffected voice.
I’m yours! heads into a more pop-friendly direction than her previous works with Liang. For example, “Ring of Tales” on her sixth album, Hatsukoi, featured bagpipes for a Celtic touch. In the album title and lead single “I’m yours!”, rapper KREVA gives the track an urban touch. Fuzzy guitars in “Anata to Watashi no Ma ni Aru Mono Subete Ai to Yobu” and a driving bass line in “Go” spice things up with a bit of rock flavor.
Having an electro song with a hip hop or rock flair isn’t too uncommon, but the difference with Sakamoto’s electro pop is it’s on the classy side. Liang’s production of Sakamoto’s albums reflect his work with The Shanghai Restoration Project, where the group fuses modern hip-hop and electronica with Chinese instruments. With Sakamoto, electro beats are often fused with piano and strings. These instruments never sound pretentious in her works. The piano and violin in “Love Trouble” are whimsical, evoking a feeling of watching rain pattering around the protagonist while contemplating about her love. The nylon string guitar and fiddle in “Dance Dance Dance” creates a folk atmosphere in this mellow song.
Sakamoto’s new release runs along the same veins as her previous works: unadulterated electro pop. Her pristine voice along with piano and strings give an elegant flair that makes I’m yours! an album that should be yours!