Dec 06

[review] Star by Mika Nakashima

At first glance, Mika Nakashima’s sixth studio album, Star, is familiar. It contains her latest six singles and their B-sides, It kicks off with “Always,” which is the kind of ballad she is well-known for singing. Even the cover is typical Nakashima style—dreamy gaze, glowing complexion, simple yet elegant hair and make-up.

Star, however, is not just soft and sweet. The images inside the CD booklet showcase the singer’s sexy, haute couture side, and songs like “Game” and “Candy Girl” combine old school funk and Motown with sass. Although they both feature heavy background vocals and horns, Nakashima never lets them outshine her. She is the diva here.

In the past, Nakashima has shown that she has attitude and funk so the second half of the CD is where the truly fresh sounds are located. It also happens to contain three new tracks.  “Lonely Star” is the closest she gets to electronica with its catchy dance beat and distorted vocals. The next three songs, which include “Memory (feat. DAISHI DANCE)” sung entirely in English, are synth-heavy as well.

Her other new songs, “16” and “Song for a Wish,” are ballads, yet they are the most outstanding numbers with their stripped-down vocals. The acoustic guitars and slightly sad tone makes “16” reminiscent of a country song while “Song for a Wish” is all about Nakashima’s voice, which she boldly allows to waver and crack. The resulting vulnerability makes the track a stunning (albeit quiet) finale.

Though devoted fans of Mika Nakashima may be disappointed in the lack of fresh material in Star, the few new songs make the album worth checking out. Like her fashion sense, it is mature and eclectic, two traits that have allowed Nakashima to shine throughout her nearly decade-long career.

Official Mika Nakashima website – http://www.mikanakashima.com/