Sometimes artists from overseas have an EP that they use to tread out into the other sectors of the world and that appears like what happened with Chitose Hajime’s “Kotonoha” which features five songs showcases her unique singing talents.
Chitose has a unique localised singing voice that means its flips up and down mid note like a very traditional Japanese folk songstress. The result means she is able to sound utterly unique even when doing bland covers (something she’s done since this EP). “Kotonoha” opens with the title track a wonderful acoustic guitar led track with punchy drums and a wonderful vocal montage to open the track. It’s beautiful and endearing whilst having a taint of sadness – something that occupies her voice most of the time with its husky glow. “Yakuskou” is a more minimalistic piano/keyboard led track with simple percussion. It slowly builds with adding extra instruments and shows how Hajime can sing without all the inflections and warbling. It’s quite a rare track in that respect. “RyuuguuNoTsukai” is a precursor to the more lighter Caribbean esque sounding rock she made with the album Cassini as it features funky guitar and happy chord progressions along with a fair few brass motifs signing off lines. The vocals here really shine – the sheer range and velocity she can change pitch in an instant always amazes me. “Seirei” returns to the acoustic rock anthems she’s more known for doing. It’s understated and easy listening done in a traditional Japanese folk song style. “Mihachigatsu” closes the EP with a cute ballad full of acoustic guitar, marimba and delicate warmth.
It’s a perfect introduction to this fantastic singer. Whilst some of her cover albums may not always hit the mark, when she’s doing original material it really shines and this is a great starting point.