Finally got Secret at RM55; featuring 14 tracks on a CD + DVD format. The steeper pricing compared to the recent A-Best2 compilations is probably due to the newer songs featured (it was released in Dec ’06). I’ve pinned high expectations on this release; after browsing thru reviews after reviews & sampling some of the tracks, glad to say that she does not disappoint. I find the songs compilation to be exceptionally fluid, with brilliantly composed interludes seamlessly bridging the transition of songs from trance-rock to emotional ballads & upbeat-pop. This is one of those albums I keep playing as a whole without skipping a track. It is also impressive to note how her vocal style has evolved from a young & straight-high pitch sounding to a deeper, huskier & mature sounding voice. For I have not been following her music for the last couple of years, I would have missed part of her career evolution. Well, at times we find that our biggest interest now will fade into a nostalgic memory in the future. But, there are also times we lose interest & then come back with a bang. Like my interest in Ayu’s music.
Though she has garnered quite a huge international following in the recent years, she still writes songs generally for the Japanese audience. The J-pop music scene being somewhat fundamentally different from the western music & mainstream Chinese music that we grew up listening to, most of us (non-Japanese audience) may find some of her songs sounding too intimidating to appreciate. The vocal styling, hit notes, harmonizing & rhythm driven lyrics might not sound very musical to the unaccustomed ears. Being a person who embraces differences easily, I’ve grown to appreciate most of her works, her distinctive poignant & haunting vocals, and more recently her writings (thanks to conveniently accessible online sources).
I’m not one who gets excited easily or believes in idolization ~ my buddies can attest to that. But I hold a lot of admiration & respect for individuals of her caliber & dedication; individuals who strive towards their dreams, trying to make it on their own terms, while being honest & true to themselves.
One thing that strikes me most about is her writings, which stand out as being sincere ~ penning out her thoughts & feelings honestly & precisely; it says a lot about her morality, character & belief. No bubbly I Love You s, cheesy Baby Do It One More Time or generic exaggerated proclamations & no indiscriminate English slang dropping so popular with Asian pop music these days. One can’t help but notice that many of her writings are reflective of emotions of deep sorrow, loneliness & despair but always with a strong will to overcome them, which can be felt in her songs; revolving around contradicting themes of finding strength in weakness, a glimpse of hope in darkness, beauty in today’s violent & pessimistic reality.
Sadness is one of the great emotions, the great asset in life; one must not deny it nor affirm it. But nothing will be solved without facing it.
Having spent her unhappy childhood in solitude when her father abruptly left, she pretty much grew up on her own, becoming an introversive person talking with herself and a perfectionist judging herself always severely ~ largely influenced her autobiographical songwriting style. She has the seeking mind for the fulfillment of life. Through all the odds & obstacles, she has made it as an accomplished musician on her own terms.
Perhaps what makes me gravitate towards her & her music ~ is the person that she is; character, beliefs, strengths, shortcomings, struggles & experiences is somewhat reflective of my own:
An introvert who seeks to be heard & understood; has problem expressing him/herself – looks calm & trouble-less on the surface but has complex feelings & emotions locked inside?
Is not very good in communicating with others, maintaining a thin veil of invisible wall when confronted with strangers, & to some degree hesitating to involve deeply in personal relations; one who does not take relationships lightly?
One who mingles with deep thoughts on fundamental questions of life; not a quick thinker & apt to talking slowly ~ slow in mind = stupid?
One who strives to stay true & honest to him/herself in pursuit of life’s dream
I’m intrigued by what is she like, how she is living & has lived & why she can write such excellent lyrics…
Inspired by Masa's personal view & interpretations =)