This past May, seiyuu KENN released his first Best of album titled “KENN Vocal Album“. This is a way to consolidate KENN musical career in one place, a simple, full of already known tracks for the fans, but still as fresh as when those were debuted. Going back in time might sometimes be somehow awkward for some artists since their initial work is not always their best but KENN really doesn’t have that problem to bother him. He has a solid repertoire full of interesting, edgy and fun tracks that, with his voice, have more than consolidated his stance as a seiyuu turned solo artist to be reckon with.
Off with the review:
Album: KENN Vocal Album Release date: 28/05/2014 Label: King Records Genre: J-Pop
1 「Pieces of My Wish」 2 「東亰浪漫譚」 3 「Be the one for you 」 4 「Eidolon 」 5 「グノーシスの断罪」 6 「Sanctuary」 7 「Sky Field」 8 「夜明けの月」 9 「紅ノ夜ノ唄」 10「星降ル夜、僕ノワルツ」
Track by track analysis:
1 – Pieces of My Wish
Going back to 2012 we find Pieces of My Wish. An uptempo, thrilling rock track resorting to the highly noticeable bassline and synths, guiding the rest of the elements throughout the whole track. KENN delivers a powerful performance with this track, blending incredibly well with the raging guitars and fierce drums. His vocals are soft but yet raw, full of emotion, something that adds another flavor to the track. Both highs and lows are right on the spot. Solid outro with the guitar entering its solo leading to the final chorus delivered as solidly as the rest of track. 5/5
2 – 東亰浪漫譚
Kicking off in the most classical way possible 東亰浪漫譚 goes away from all the contemporary trends. The strings take the wheel alongside the bass in one of the best tracks in KENN‘s repertoire. A track that really builds up its tension throughout the verses, bursting up in the melodic chorus where KENN‘s vocals impress with its sweetness and preciseness. Looking at the instrumental track we’re presented with a slightly unusual track; we have the strings taking a big role in this track, something like from the Meiji/Taisho era (early 20th century) giving that classy edge to the track. A one of a kind track with a fabulous performance and a killer ending. 5/5
3 – Be the one for you
KENN is known for his awesome performances in the most upbeat tracks but it’s also a known fact that, when it comes to deliver powerful, emotional performances in ballads, he’s the guy for it. “Be the one for you” is your typical ballad resorting to a minimal instrumental track mainly consisting of strings, piano and way in the background, the guitar. KENN excels in performing these kind of tracks since his voice tone is slightly sweet, tender and overall, able to convey impressively well emotions, like it’s expected of a seiyuu / stage actor. The outro is mesmerizing with a soft, melodic guitar solo making the way for one last chorus. 4/5
4 – Eidolon
The ending theme for otome game TOKYO MEIJI RENKA opens up in a grandiose way with a rock instrumental led but by classic instrumentalization. Eidolon is a strong track with a extremely intricate instrumental. We have strings and other classical elements in the background blending perfectly with a multitude of other elements from the bass to drums, guitars or even those slight synth hits in the background. It’s a track blending the best of both worlds: rock and classical, turning this track in a slightly slow-paced kind of symphonic rock. 4/5
5 – グノーシスの断罪
Opening theme for otome game BEYOND THE FUTURE ～FIX THE TIME ARROWS～ back in 2011. A track that relies on a not so heavy instrumental piece in the verses or a big amped up, loud chorus, leaving a lot of space open for KENN to shine with his vocal performance without any distractions. This track goes in the same direction as Eidolon; it’s slow paced, once again emotional, making good use of the synths and bass. It builds up slowly but steadily leading to a short outro where the piano takes the lead, in fact, the best and most noticeable performance in the instrumental is delivered by the piano. Could be a better track if it had used the slow paced instrumental to slowly build up to a grandiose chorus but it simply falls a bit short in comparison with KENN‘s previous singles. 3.5/5
6 – Sanctuary
In 2013 this track and the single in itself were featured in the Japanese otome game 「しらつゆの怪」.
It’s a mid-tempo rock track making good use of the guitars that, between riffs, lead the way towards one of the most interesting choruses KENN has presented us. Sanctuary is an interesting rock track, not a heavy one and most certainly not the quietest of them. KENN goes towards milder territory and manages to deliver a solid performance, showcasing his vibrato here and there and how steady is his tone with both those tricky high notes or those heavier lower notes. Not the greatest of the tracks featured in this Best of, but still an interesting one. 4/5
7 – Sky Field
Sky Field starts off slowly resorting to guitars reverbing, synths and strings way in the background. It’s a sweet, slow, emotional, almost raw track with an explosive melodic chorus where KENN makes sure to impress with his spotless performance. It may kick off slowly but it manages to build up enough tension to be released in the chorus, giving the track that element missing in グノーシスの断罪, that raw, heartfelt vocal performance in a big chorus. Once again it’s one of those tracks easily nailed out by KENN. 4.5/5
8 – 夜明けの月
Second track from 2012 single “Pieces of my wish“. Going once again towards a more acoustic, slow, melodic side, KENN delivers one of his best vocal performances in this album. This is the perfect track to showcase how amazing he is with those high notes and how he manages to convey so many emotions in one short track. A flawless performance that will give you the chills in the last minute. 4/5
9 – 紅ノ夜ノ唄
By far the best track in this Best of and on KENN‘s repertoire. 紅ノ夜ノ唄 is featured as the opening theme for otome game TOKYO MEIJI RENKA and it really goes back to the 20’s sound. It’s jazzy, fast, danceable and catchy from the very first minute until its very end. KENN has once again a solid performance with a flawless chorus. The track goes in the right way getting that classic, classy sound that only the 20’s had. It was so well captured in this track that it really impresses. Sax, trumpets and the bass join themselves with the contemporary rock elements provided by the raging guitars and the unstoppable drums. This track is like going in a time machine revisiting the fox trot, jazzy days, a hit right in the money with this one. 5/5
10 – 星降ル夜、僕ノワルツ
To compete this trip throughout KENN‘s repertoire we have another mild track to end this on a sweet, slow paced note. 星降ル夜、僕ノワルツ leaves all room available for vocal work since its minimal instrumental little or nothing bothers the vocal track. The pizzicato strings enrich the overall instrumental in the chorus, while during the verses the instrumental goes almost unnoticed, resorting to minimal piano parts and the strings. Look at the vocal track we find performance like we’re used to by KENN. He knows what he does best and each and every time, he uses his skills to deliver flawless performances and that goes without saying that even live his performances in this kind of ballad tracks is always right in the spot. His ability to never be off key or miss be it high or low notes is commendable and makes, overall, his performances more enjoyable to listen to. 4/5
Final rating: 4/5
KENN is without a doubt one of the best solo artists in the seiyuu business. It goes without saying that he is incredibly well trained vocally, always able to hit high notes like no other, deliver low notes without losing his pace and fitting into almost every genre available with no problems whatsoever. This best of is like a journey to where it all started with KENN’s solo debut making us reminisce how much he’s grown since the beginning with each and every track. He’s the kind of singer that really deserves more respect and recognition from both his peers and seiyuu fans since his talent is remarkable. We’re presented with a mild Best Of, full of slow paced, ballad like tracks but with their good moments and, in the end, enriching the overall experience thourough KENN’s music. It’s the perfect way to get to know one of the best performers in Japan up close and personal with this Best Of.
“KENN Vocal Album” is available for purchase on CDJAPAN for all overseas fans.