Ichiko Aoba is a Japanese singer-songwriter who mostly specialises in folk music. In 2010, at just age 20, Ichiko released her debut album Kamisori Otome (剃刀乙女) which helped launch her music career. Ichiko’s new album Windswept Adan is her seventh studio album and was highly anticipated after her previous album qp led to her receiving more western attention than ever before. Ichiko’s newfound popularity in the west seems to be part of the reason for titling the album’s lead single in English but also for placing herself on the album cover.
The album opens with the song “Prologue” and is filled with these subtle but suspenseful instruments, soothing vocals and the sound of waves gently hitting a shore, that feel both relaxing but they also help to slowly build the song up. The next song is “Pilgrimage” which is again carried by these beautiful and peaceful instrumentals. The third track “Porcelain” was released on October 30th 2020 alongside the announcement of the album, “Porcelain” features enchanting and graceful guitar playing from Ichiko which when paired with her beautiful vocals lead to what is easily one of the most brilliant and emotive songs to come out of this year. “Porcelain” served as a perfect single to create hype around an album which fans speculated would be taking a new direction for Ichiko due to the variety of instrumentation on the track.
Windswept Adan is an album that carries so much beauty with it’s vast array of calming instrumentation and Ichiko’s angel-like vocals which are enough to warm even the coldest of souls. Tracks like “Parfum d’etoiles” use sounds of nature such as quiet chirps of birds to help place the listener in these beautiful and ambient surroundings that Ichiko is successfully able to create. “Easter Lily” is one of the stand out tracks on the record for me personally. The elegant vocals and backing instruments help to move the listener through a 3 minute long track that is packed with emotion. “Sagu Palm’s Song” is a track that while still remaining true to the ambience of the album, provides a refreshingly upbeat midpoint to the album. What makes “Sagu Palm’s Song” stand out on this album is the more energetic vocal performances and the guitar line which gives the song this sense of hope and inspiration.
“Dawn in the Adan” is one of the more uplifting songs on the record. It kicks right in with a guitar backing which is much faster paced than the majority of songs on the album and vocals from Ichiko that feel passionate, confident and cheerful.
“Adan no Shima no Tanjyosai” is one of the best and most fitting album closers I have ever heard, this over 6 minute long closing track features intense instrumentation that builds up until around the 4 minute mark the track transitions into silence only for the album to end with more gentle waves just like we heard at the beginning of the album. The final climax of the song and then the peaceful sounds of the sea making for a perfect end to what is easily one of the best albums released this year.
Despite Ichiko being over 10 years into her music career she still proves on this record that she is capable of producing beautiful and unique music masterpieces.
Words by Alex Herron.