Emotions Thelma Aoyama (CD)
Japanese R&B diva Thelma Aoyama is back with some inspiring songs on her latest album, Emotions. After Utada Hikaru, Aoyama is probably Japan's strongest performer. Her stunning voice ensures impressive sales of albums such as the recent Love! Thelma Love Song Collection.
The 12 songs on Emotions and the DVD are far from boring. But unfortunately, the album is more commercial, and contains far fewer surprises than on Aoyama's previous offerings.
Wasurenai Yo ('I Can't Forget') is the theme song of the touching film about a loyal dog, Hachiko: A Dog's Story. Meanwhile, the generically J-pop Happiness has been used to promote famous fashion show Tokyo Girls Collection 09.
These tracks indicate a shift in direction: J-pop dominates on this album far more than on the singer's earlier efforts, which will likely leave some fans yearning for more R&B.
The dance tracks also give the album a feeling of being unbalanced - there are just too many ingredients in this musical recipe.
Sadly, Emotions lacks a stand-out song. Baby, I Love You and Cinderella Story show off Aoyama's voice, but they're let down by their titles and melodies.