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Highlights: Kyrie~荒野の果てに, Let It Snow, Brand New Breeze, Carry On, Nella Fantasia, キセキ Song of Love
Kanon, a soprano, songwriter and pianist, is one of the rare artists that gives a superb offering with each of her releases, and Precious, possibly the most "Western" of her albums, is no exception. It's something of a seasonal album, consisting of three tracks that give Christmas an atmospheric nod, but otherwise the album can be played at any time of the year.
Born in Tokyo and having her career in Japan means that her sound is different to her Western peers by default. The inclusion of 'You Raise Me Up', 'Nella Fantasia', and 'Time to Say Goodbye' all in one album would normally cause heavy penalties to the track list rating but she even manages to breathe fresh life into them. Their inclusion also serves the purpose of familiarising the Western audience with her music that otherwise may be frightened off by the Hiragana text in the album booklet and back cover. However, Precious was released with the Eastern audience in mind, and the Western and Christian standards are quite daring and unusual, especially as she sings them (and most of the album) in English.
Although her sound is distinctly different from anyone else in the field, she is highly accessible. Her voice is admittedly thin, but undeniably beautiful. She never pushes it, she never tries to be operatic and the result is a natural and relaxing vocal. It's not a perfect performance, but it all somehow adds to her charm. But what really makes the difference, and Kanon unmissable, are her innovative arrangements. The instruments are Western but she merely selects different ones from the norm, or abandons orchestral instruments altogether, using keyboard and programming instead (though in a tasteful way). The latter gives an ethereal and new age type sound that fans of Enya and Celtic Woman would appreciate.
Even without the wondrous arrangements, Kanon still proves to be an original artist as she's happy to lift up her pen and provide us with seven of her original songs. Her signature tune in Japan is 'Brand New Breeze', which is based on Edward Elgar's 'Salut d'amour' and was snapped up for the theme tune of the anime Kin’iro no Corda ~primo passo~. It was originally released on a previous album, Sanctuary. For Precious Kanon has removed the percussion from the original and gives it a more classical sound featuring the Stella Quintet Players Side. The best of her original songs on this album are 'Kyrie~荒野の果てに', 'Carry On', and 'キセキ Song of Love'. The first is a beautiful introduction to the album and is paired with the traditional 'Angels Heard on High' in the second half. 'Carry On' is an atmospheric ballad whilst the last, 'キセキ Song of Love', is a stunner of a song that's based on Johann Pachelbel's 'Canon'. Like 'Brand New Breeze' it's not the first time she has recorded the song; it's the standout track for her album Primary Flowers. Although she has not changed it for the better for Precious, it still suits the album well, and the acoustic take on it may please traditionalists.
For those that are familiar with Japanese music, two of her original songs, '都会の天使たちへ' and 'Let It Snow' are your typical J-Pop songs, but for those that have never ventured into the East, they may seem a little weird - in the case of 'Let It Snow', a bit of a shock. The latter may cause excessive happiness or an excessive impulse for the 'off' button (for the record, it causes excessive happiness at team C-C.co.uk). It's an infectious Christmas song that includes the Japanese rapper WISE. Other (more traditional) Christmas songs include 'O Come All Ye Faithful' and within the 'Christmas Medley' you will hear 'The First Noel', 'White Christmas', 'O Holy Night' and 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'.
Classical crossover has quite a bit of success in Japan, and it's a treat to have one of their artists put their stamp on it. Kanon should be a given a try by any type of crossover fan; Precious is a good place to start, otherwise her album Primary Flowers is recommended which includes 'Can't Help Falling in Love', 'Goodnight My Angel' and the superior version of 'キセキ Song of Love'.
2. 都会の天使たちへ (featuring Tetsuya Bessho)
3. Let It Snow (featuring WISE)
4. Brand New Breeze
5. You Raise Me Up
6. Carry On
7. Nella Fantasia
8. Time to Say Goodbye
9. Eternity~悠久~ (featuring Mika Agematsu)
10. O Come All Ye Faithful
11. キセキ Song of Love
12. Christmas Medley