Sing to the Sky
Sing to the Sky was ayaka’s 2nd album. It was released on June 25, 2008 and reached number 2 on the charts with 315,373 copies sold. In all this album has sold over 534,655+ copies. This album features the singles WINDIND ROAD to Okaeri. This album was released in three edition, a CD only edition, a CD+DVD edition featuring PVs from all of her singles, and then a CD+DVD edition featuring a live concert. The track Konya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete was used as the theme song for the movie The Sky Crawler, and an animated PV was created, to coincide with the film I guess but it wasn’t released on the DVD. On the CD+DVD first press edition, the English version of I believe was featured.
1. POWER OF MUSIC
2. Ai wo Utaou
4. Jewelry day
5. Good Night Baby
6. For today
8. Gold Star
9. Mahoutsukai no Shiwaza
10. Te wo Tsunagou
11. Ai mo Uso mo Shinjitsu
12. CLAP & LOVE
13. Kimi ga Iru Kara
15. Kon’ya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete
16. WINDING ROAD
17. I believe <English ver.>
With the piano playing so casually almost jazz or ragtime like you can tell that POWER OF MUSIC will be good. The instrumentals are almost jazz like, featuring some percussion namely the sax. The beats are pretty catchy, and you can get lost in the music so easily. No surprise that the vocals are perfect as ever, and during the soft parts where the piano plays only her vocals sound especially great. The chorus wasn’t all that catchy but it sounded so good, it’s those jazz instrumentals. And again ayaka demonstrates her mastery of English while singing. What a classy and jazzy way to be her sophomore album.
To keep with the up-beat mood so far the next track is Ai wo Utaou. Originally released as a double A-Side single along with Te wo Tsunagou, it’s more up-beat than anything really. It’s your average ayaka song featuring the guitar as the main instrument, but it’s high quality and the vocals are excellent. I really loved how her vocals seemed slightly less deep, higher even. And to top it off the song was very catchy, it almost had a ballad quality to it, just because it sounded so beautiful, even though it wasn’t a ballad.
We now come to the title track SKY. Now even though it’s not Sing to the Sky, it’s about the closest thing to a title track considering it says “Fly to the Sky” in the chorus. It follows the trend of up-beat tracks, especially with the drums and acoustic guitar, two signature ayaka instruments. Her steady vocals give life to the verses and lift up the chorus. With the background vocals in the background of the chorus it gives the song a heavenly feeling. And to top is all off her vocals are as perfect as ever, especially when she sings in English. Another thing I loved was how ayaka managed to make her vocals sound different at point, well the pitch I guess.
And it looks like the trend of up-beat tracks is ended by the heart wrenching Jewelry day. I personally think that this solemn ballad is another signature ballad from ayaka but that’s me. From the lonely acoustic guitar at the beginning and all the emotion in ayaka’s vocals you can’t help but feel sad from this song. Despite how sad it sounds and moving slowly, it sounds so beautiful especially the lyrics, Japanese and English. It’s even more beautiful as the song continues, especially with the addition of the strings. Odd to place it here, but the song is phenomenal nevertheless.
Suddenly we’re right back to up-beat ayaka songs with Good Night Baby. The rhythm is undeniably catchy and it’s a feel-good song. The song begins to get better at the half point, where ayaka shows some very fantastic vocals. Of course the guitars and drums really make it all possible and such. And I loved the end, her ab-libbing is amazing. The only major problem was that the song was so short, but short and simple really; not bad at all.
Time for the track For today. Now this track was released way back in November of 2007 as a digital single, but I really didn’t feel like reviewing it, kinda messed up the whole Week idea, and there’s no point reviewing it anyway since it’d be on the album. Now as for the review of it on the album; well for starters it’s very rock oriented and it creates a happy atmosphere with it, especially with the rock, fun opening. It’s still up-beat but what I really love is ayaka’s vocals, they seem to be the highpoint in every song. I especially loved it when she sung the chorus, such variety and power. The song is pretty entertaining, not a bad venture into rock.
It’s now time for such the wonderful, the beautiful, the astounding Why. This song was one of my personal favorites from ayaka, I just fell in love with her vocals. The music is dramatic as it builds up to the chorus, and yet it sounds so serene and beautiful. What I can’t get enough of though is ayaka’s vocals, they sound so lovely right before the chorus. And with the choir in the background quieting singing ahh, you can’t help but love this song. The piano afterwards didn’t hurt either. I will always love this song, such a great ballad, well it’s somewhat of a ballad, with a little pop.
I guess ayaka needed some rock tracks on the album, and that’s where Gold Star comes in. From the electric guitars playing I could tell that this song was so great, and rock oriented. And with those fantastic vocals she makes it all sound so catchy and so infectious. Another thing I noticed is that the music is faster than her usual stereotypical songs, and it’s a nice change actually. It’s like this song was made for her perfectly. This has got to be her most rock oriented tune ever, and her best one yet.
It seems that we’ve finally found a non guitar based track, well the beginning anyway, with Mahoutsukai no Shiwaza. It’s one of the slower songs on the album, and it’s a little softer than her other tracks. For once it seems the piano is the main instrument, back by drums. I really enjoyed listening to ayaka, her vocals were higher, not as deep as usual. What’s even better was the last minute, where some background vocals were introduced. And it’s the shortest song on the album, but just as good as those long tracks.
Although this track has got some criticism I actually love Te wo Tsunagou. Besides it reminding me of an English song, I just love the vocals. They’re higher than ayaka’s deep vocals, and that’s what makes it so great. And with the lonely acoustic guitar playing it surrounds the song in an atmosphere of both joy and sorrow. If you don’t like the first part either, just wait. The song gets better as it progresses, so just hold on.
The album takes yet another turn with the song Ai mo Uso mo Shinjitsu. Here ayaka’s vocals seem deeper than usual, and the electric guitar makes ayaka sound almost angry or just like a rocker. Either way it’s good, I just really loved her vocals, all the power in that one little person. I must admit that I’m beginning to love her more rock inspired tracks, and this song is no exception.
Keeping with the rock genre is CLAP & LOVE. This song was released along with Why as her first double A-Side single. It’s definitely one of her rock inspired songs, and it’s a damn good one. The constant claps and the electric guitar make for one addictive duo. But what’s the real treat is ayaka’s vocals, they’re deeper than before, so think deep, now deeper and you got it. What I loved even more than that was the fact that she made the chorus sound catchy like a pop song, yet it still had that rock vibe.
I guess she decided to break the trend of rock songs with this little gem Kimi ga Iru Kara. It’s up-beat as ever and that’s not even the best part. At first I thought it’d be very rock like but after I heard the strings and the guitar quieting down I knew that I’d love it. It also appears that the xylophone plays a little role, making a twinkling sound, very cute. Also ayaka’s vocals weren’t all that deep, they were just right, not too high nor deep as usual. Anyway the one thing I couldn’t get over were the strings, they sounded so lovely, along with the electric guitar, what an odd combo right? But it still made for one fantastic song.
Did someone ask “Where are the bagpipes?” well if you did you must’ve meant Okaeri. At first I was a little skeptical about the bagpipes but over time I loved them, and they gave the song some distinction. ayaka’s vocals weren’t any major problem either, they were just right. I as actually thrilled to hear another ballad on the album, and because it had some strings it made it even more enjoyable.
To end the album, before all the bonus tracks, is the delightful ballad Kon’ya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete. The music sounds so depressing, and yet it’s so beautiful. Words really can’t describe how you feel about this song, it’s one work of art, indescribable. Here ayaka’s vocals are filled, and I mean filled with emotion and power, an impressive combination. Even though it’s a while before the strings enter, it’s worth the wait. Once they enter the song becomes more of a powerhouse for emotion and love. I don’t think you could have asked for a better final track.
As for the bonus tracks, first up is WINDING ROAD. This fantastic collaboration is with Kobukuro, and with ayaka they make some darn good music. It has a little country feel to it, but it’s still good nevertheless. The vocals are really impressive here. It’s somewhat odd to place this up-beat song after a tear jerking ballad but that’s arrangement for you.
For the final anticipated song, I Believe <English ver.>. Although she song isn’t really all that new considering that she’s sung it before, this is the first time it was featured on either a single or album. The music is as solemn and beautiful as ever, but this time the lyrics naturally are in English. And it sounds even more beautiful than the original version, because I can understand it without translations. And with that being said it’s still so heart wrenching, and it makes me almost cry. I can honestly admit that this song, either version, is one of her most phenomenal ballads of all time.
Overall Review: Sing to the Sky was such a phenomenal album, an amazing creation. It’s a step up from First Message, and it’s certainly far more superior. This album is by far her best one to date. I can’t stress enough how amazing her vocals sound and just how impressive they are. But another thing I loved about this album was the fact that it’s more mature and the fact that there’s more variety in this album compared to the previous. It still features that signature guitar as the main instrument in many songs and her deep distinct vocals, but that’s become such a treat. I don’t think I’ve heard such a moving album like this in such a long time.
Final Grade: 100A+