Aoi Teshima has had a busy 2008 releasing two albums. The first is this one, entitled “The Rose ~I Love Cinemas~” which takes eight well known movie famous songs and then gives them the Teshima treatment.
Opening with title track “The Rose” we’re treated to the soft elegance of Aoi’s voice. In harmony with a gentle piano, you can imagine this being what heaven’s waiting music would be. Also it must be noted that the album is completely in English and the elocution is near perfect.
Next up is a beautifully relaxed version of “Moon River” with just vocal and acoustic guitar which is just dreamy and is followed by the serene “Calling You” which hushes you to sleep with a lullaby even with its downbeat nature.
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” is possibly the only song that doesn’t work perfectly. While trying to turn it into a swing song, the lack of drums or upbeat bass really hampers the overall mood. It’s still a nice version but with percussion it’d have lifted it up. Then we have the song that I’d been waiting for Aoi to sing since I first heard her voice. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is typically stripped down and bare and also beautiful however I surprised that the tempo was faster than say the Eva Cassidy version. I’ve often thought of Aoi’s vocal being the Japanese Eva and so I’m surprised they didn’t milk this song for every second it plays.
“Beauty and the Beast” follows from the Disney film and this is definitely softer and just as effective as hearing Mrs. Potts sing it! VGM fans will notice Fabian Reza Paine from FFX-2 Piano Collections as the pianist. An excellent choice of song with a nice instrumental section which is completely unrushed unlike the previous track.
“What is a Youth?” is the song with the most backbone to it. Its great to hear something a bit more upfront and powerful. This has a downbeat feel to it with a rousing middle that you want to shout out and is a welcome departure from the rest of the album. “Alfie” returns to the piano/vocal ballads that work so well before you end on an acoustic guitar version of “The Rose”.
Fans of her first album will not be disappointed however if like many, you were looking for a bit more variety and versatility you will find that this album is even more streamlined to one sound than Earthsea was. “The Rose” plays to all of Aoi’s ballad strengths to make a completely weepie / relaxing experience but there’s more in the box if she’d only be allowed to let herself go. Japan’s Eva Cassidy? You bet!