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Risa Ohki & Nobuo Uematsu – “Final Fantasy Pray” Review

Final Fantasy Pray was the very first vocal collection of Final Fantasy songs. The songs were taken from FFI-VI and have been transformed from classic midi files into superb, fully orchestrated songs sung in a variety of languages.

Upon first hearing this album, you’ll be shocked at just how well these pieces of music have been transformed into fantastic ballads. The closest I describe it without you listening to it, is that it’s a CD full of ending vocal themes! Is it as good as it sounds though? Well in a word, yes!

The CD opens with “Prelude”, which is the opening theme, which has been used in one form or another in every Final Fantasy game. This time, the arpeggio is done with a harp, and the various vocal harmonies build up with a vocal choir. It’s a pure gem of a song, as its very fragile and gentle.

“The Promised Land” is created from the Main Theme from FFII. Its fully orchestrated string background and sweeping flute make the main tune while the vocals soar through. It’s very grand in its percussion and gives the feeling of a big piece that should be held in an opera!

“Mon Petit Chat” is from FFV and takes the form of the Music Box song. This has a very French feel from the language change, to the accordion. This song is a much happier song than the previous two but yet still has a whimsical feel too. The piano playing here is very well done.

“Wanderer Of Time” is Terra’s song from FFVI and is without doubt the showcase song from the CD. From the war drum heartbeat, to the endless harmonies in the vocals, this song screams epic. This is made more apparent by the way how the music feels fuller. The strings in the earlier songs sound a little thin, but here they are thick with grandeur and mystery. This is pure musical indulgence.

“Into The Light” is FFIV’s Theme Of Love, and is one of the more recognisable songs. The melodies do not stray very far at all from the original. While this song does have its strong parts, for the most part it’s a more tamed down and emotive version. The themes are played through instrumentally with piano and also with strings too, and the ending leaves you feeling just as fragile as the love in the story was, heart breaking.

“Esperanca De Amor” is an almost unrecognisable version of FFV’s Dear Friends! What makes it so different is it’s done in a slightly Spanish type of jazz! With the acoustic guitar and marimba merrily playing away to the beat, you’d never have believed this type of arrangement would have worked! It actually works very well, and gives a welcome break from the fairly downbeat songs we’ve had so far!

“Voyage” is FFIII’s Endless Ocean, which brings us back to soaring vocals and string pieces, but this time there’s a beat to it too. This song is one of the simpler ones that keeps the songs strong main melody.  “Au Palais de Verre” is FF’s Montoya’s Cave, which is instantly recognisable and thankfully keeps intact its bouncy tune, which after a slightly slow start, gets in full swing. This is probably the most cheerful song on the album and gives “Final Fantasy Pray” its bright touch.

“Once You Meet Her” is FFIII’s Maiden Of The Water and although it does sound a little similar to some of the other songs in the way its been reproduced, the vocals here are stunning, with a complete range of octaves. This is yet another beautiful tune, in which the harp and the strings interact perfectly.

“Pray”, the title track is the Final Fantasy theme. Once again, its epic all the way, with slow but hard hitting percussion, strings and vocals, and a cute guitar solo piece in the middle. The end spells out what this track is all about, as it showcases all the talents of this CD.

“Nao Chora Menina” closes the CD, and it’s an acoustic guitar and vocal version of FFVI’s Kids Run Through The City Corner. It’s very intimate yet soft and detailed and is a lovely way to finish the CD, just the way it started in a fragile and gentle way.

Final Fantasy Pray is a fantastic addition to anyone’s collection, even if you’ve not played the games that they have come from. This CD makes them into true songs by their own outright charm. With vocal songs being all the range these days the CD may not be quite as unique as it was back on release day but you can’t mistake its class.

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