- Ai Kotoba
- Hatsukoi -acoustic ver.-
- Ai Kotoba (Instrumental)
1. Ai Kotoba
A gentle piano melody accompanied by double bass introduces this slow and sweet ballad. Mika delivers a heartfelt performance, with just the right combination of tenderness and a heartfelt rawness. I notice her upper register is strong, which is always great when she wants to adds a delicate touch to the song. The arrangement isn’t overly complicated with a bit of strings, acoustic guitar and drums added later, it just sticks to the basics and gets them just right. I’m getting an old-school feeling with the pause before the chorus too. A really great song.
The first B-side from the single, MISSING opens with staccato strings, simple piano chords and bare drums. The vocals in this song are great as well, though imperfect in their delivery they convey emotion and complement the mood very well. There are some interesting instruments as well, with hand drums and a soft jangling instrument (harpsichord?). It’s not quite as good as the Ai Kotoba, but still strong in it’s own right.
3. Hatsukoi -acoustic ver.-
Even without knowing the original, by this time I was not surprised that the last track on the single was also a ballad. Using only two acoustic guitar and vocals in the beginning, it’s the most subdued out of tracks on this single. Emotion just flows from Mika’s voice as she shows her skills at conveying her feelings through singing. Piano added halfway through the song adds more presence. Mika’s last held note sounds so sad, and then the piece farewells the listener with slow chord changes. A perfect close to the single.
I haven’t heard too much of Mika Nakashima but I am very impressed with this. This is seriously one of the best collection of ballads I’ve heard in a while. Her voice is perfectly suited for this style, and the arrangements are great and hold your interest right until the end. A fantastic single, I completely recommend it!