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 urban performer. Her stunning voice ensures impressive sales of albums like her recent Love! Thelma Lovesong Collection.
The 12-track album and DVD are far from boring, but unfortunately is more commercial, less impressive and contains far fewer surprises than Aoyama's previous offerings.
Wasurenai Yo (I Won't Forget) is the theme song for a very touching film about dogs, Hachi Ko. The typically J-pop Happiness is used on the advert for famous fashion show Tokyo Girls Collection 09. These tracks are indicative of the shift in materials: there are far stronger J-pop elements on this album than previously, and fans may have preferred more R&B.
The album also contains dance tracks. Unfortunately, this leaves it unbalanced - there are just too many ingredients in this musical recipe.
All tracks are perfectly good and well arranged, but there just isn't 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 - tacky reminders of old Backstreet Boys numbers.