Mar 29

[Review] alan: Gunjou no Tani

gunjouThis release ought to be billed as Cocco featuring alan.

For penning Chinese pop singer alan’s eighth Japanese single, Gunjou no Tani, Okinawan alt-pop queen Cocco gets almost as much billing as the artist herself—she’s mentioned on the front side of the CD spine, and her message appears alongside alan’s on the back cover.

But more important, the biggest reason to listen to “Gunjou no Tani” is that it’s is one of the best Cocco songs of the past three years. The nearly a cappella lullaby opening bursts into a soaring, radiant melody demonstrating her best songwriting without sounding like music she’s released before. And while many of Cocco’s post-comeback songs have sounded uncharacteristically hollow, “Gunjou no Tani” is heartfelt, rich with bravery and passion.

Alan’s interpretation of the song does it justice. Though she’s equipped with a typical idol tone quality—nasal and thin—alan sings well and emotionally, and stylizes her voice with gorgeous mountain wails in the choruses.

(Still, it’s tempting to imagine how much better “Gunjou no Tani” would have sounded with Cocco’s heart-wrenching pure tone and emotional range. May we have a self-cover, please?)

The arrangers bridge the gaps between Cocco’s rock sensibilities, and alan’s idol pop and Chinese background. Tasuku, who’s worked with Hamasaki Ayumi but also arranged Cocco’s 2003 song “Garnet,” filters the Okinawan musician’s ethereal rock through a shiny pop aesthetic. Alan plays the ehru on a coupling acoustic version (featuring re-performed vocals!) to highlight her Chinese background.

As the best work to come from Cocco in years and the best alan has sung yet, Gunjou no Tani makes you look forward to the women’s next individual projects. When Cocco releases new music, will it be this good? And do alan’s talent and musical taste mean she’s going to prove worthy of more than the generic Avex pop she’s been given so far?


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  1. Victoria Goldenberg

    It looks like Cocco’s been busy with her writing and artwork lately. She had an exhibition recently. But she’s going to be a vocalist on Curly Giraffe’s upcoming cover EP, which also features Chara, Bonnie Pink and Arai Akino (on separate tracks, even though a giant collaboration would be awesome).

    1. Tsuki

      That sounds like an EP worth hearing. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Tsuki

    I found the pv on youtube(beautiful to watch)and the song is ~amazing~. I can hear Cocco singing it in my head, but Alan does a pretty good job of it, too.

    The youtube link is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25scaAePMqo for anyone who is curious.

  3. Tsuki

    I had no idea this song existed. Thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely check it out because I’m a huge Cocco fan from way back and I miss her. She’s one hell of a singer/songwriter and hopefully she’ll do more solo work soon. I’ve never listened to Alan, so I can’t comment about her yet.

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