Hiromi Kanda – Days of Yesterday

While I found singer Hiromi Kanda’s last release, Hiromi in Love, quite charming, her new record offers more of the same—and that’s not necessarily a plus. Think Hello Kitty meets Diana Krall, but without the sparkles. The album credits reveal that Al Schmitt (the engineer on Krall’s early albums) to be present, as well as a 50-piece orchestra. Another household name, Bernie Grundman, turns in an exemplary performance as mastering engineer. And while it doesn’t possess the LP’s last bit of vocal warmth, the CD comes very close, indicating the amount of care given the entire project.

Some might think Kanda’s vocal tone polarizing, but her level of craftsmanship remains indisputable; she is a perfectionist. Having taken four months to produce at Capitol Records, the record is squeaky clean—albeit too clean. But those simply looking for great sound will be pleased; no fault can be had with the recording. This is a sonic spectacular that “deep listening” audiophiles will enjoy when the lights are down low.

Alas, due to the pedestrian arrangements and safe approaches, no musical boundaries are pushed, no borders crossed. Kanda includes three original compositions and utilizes legendary keyboardist Joe Sample to good advantage. Still, the songs unfurl to a monotonous sleepy tempo that seemingly repeats itself on every track.

As one who is bored beyond belief with the vocal grifters of the “Great American Songbook,” I’d love to see what Kanda could do with truly interesting material; she’s definitely got the chops. But I’m of the mind that if you want a Harley, you should buy a Harley and not a Yamaha Gold Wing. Days of Yesterday falls short in a similar way. In the end, if you’d like another sultry female vocalist to add to your stack of scrumptious recordings, Kanda nicely slips in between Diana Krall and Eva Cassidy. Me? I want the real thing and will take Ella any day.

Music Gate, LP and CD