Yuma Uchida takes a careful step forward with his 2nd single “Before Dawn“. It’s impossible to ignore this lineup full of ethereal and easy-listening tunes that cater to everyone fan of feel good music and stellar vocals.
Title: Before Dawn Label: KING RECORDS Release date: 19/09/2018 Genre: Pop/R&B
1. Before Dawn 2. Stardust 3. Looook UP !!! 4. Before Dawn（off vocal ver.） 5. Stardust（off vocal ver.） 6. Looook UP !!!（off vocal ver.）
Track by track analysis:
1. Before Dawn
Uchida brings back an energetic pop-rock sound for the single’s title track. The instrumental blends rock, acoustic and electronica to create an ethereal and, at times, exciting sound. Acoustic guitar riffs set a sweet tone for this song, later being joined by fast paced, funky guitar licks, a groovy bass line and snare-y drums. Electronica still plays a role in this song, helping creating an ethereal soundscape through the airy atmospheric synths, the introduction of a couple of dubstep beat samples and dirty synths. The instrumental feels right, with a close to perfect balance between the rock and electronica elements, creating this mid-tempo, feel good pop-rock tune.
On the vocal end, this is one of the simplest songs so far released on Uchida‘s solo career. There’s not much room for a performance full of flair or flourishes yet he has a comfort, charisma and singing tone that make his performance enjoyable, regardless of technicality in his performance. Solid opening song. 4.5/5
And to steal the show, we have the surprise on this single, “Stardust“. The instrumental brings R&B and electronica to the table and mixes those to create an emotional, dreamy and trendy tune that caters to both R&B purists and fans of minimalistic electronica. A minimalistic, bass drum beat with triplets and finger snaps set a slow, emotional tone for this track, all while washy synth hits, atmospheric synths and bass add the final touches to make this simple, yet tasteful instrumental. Everything, from the intro to the verses, chorus and outro, is flawless and done with absolute simplicity. That simplicity is key, especially in a music genre that takes pride in impressing with emotions that resonate with the listener.
With vocals like Uchida‘s it’s safe to say that it was a matter of time until King Records would suggest him to perform R&B. His control, sweet low to mid tones and breathtaking high notes make him the perfect choice to perform a song such as this song. He infused this song with a lot of emotion, upped his ad-lib game, impressed with his falsetto, delivering the best performance on this single. 5/5
3. Looook UP !!!
Progressive synths create a bright, airy soundscape for Looook UP !!!. This song doesn’t stray that much away from the sound in previous tracks. Acoustic elements are present mainly by the hand of acoustic guitars and, at the same time, electronica is present through atmospheric synths to create an ethereal soundscape that envelops the listener from the very first note. The instrumental sounds like an ambitious hybrid of acoustic, pop, electronica, tropical house and R&B. If you don’t focus on the sudden changes in music genres and the dubstep-heavy breaks, there’s an underlying sweetness in this instrumental, something that comes from the addition of R&B elements to this track that will impress you. Tropical house pitched in and gave this song a laidback dimension that, alongside the ethereal work from the synths, make this song an enjoyable listen. Acoustic guitars, bass, triplets and a simple bass drum beat complete this simple instrumental focused on giving off a feel good vibe.
Between sweet mid-tones and a mesmerizing falsetto, fans got a little of everything with Uchida‘s spotless performance. 4.5/5
Before Dawn brought to the table rich instrumentals that incorporate elements from acoustic, rock, R&B and electronica. Some might consider that this single, by adopting a different musical approach, distanced itself from the electronica/funk-pop sound in the debut single, however it sounds more like a step up while still comfortably exploring music genres, as well as showcasing just how talented and versatile Uchida is as a singer, tackling all these music genres and delivering strong performances in all of them.
It’s performances like the one in “Stardust“, an R&B tune, that happens to be a first in his solo career, that are perfect to showcase Uchida‘s powerful vocals. His performance dazzles with each note, breath and flourish he adds. He showed his ad-lib game and impressive vocal control with a whole lot of falsetto, sweet mid-tones and beautiful high notes that gave this song a unique flair. Hands down his best performance in this single, a result of novelty (the music genre) and impressive showcase of skill and technicality.
On the opposite side is Before Dawn, the single’s title track that brought acoustic elements to the table, blending those with rock and electronica. The song itself has an ethereal touch – something noticeable in almost all songs in this release – and a close to perfect balance between all elements in play. Acoustic elements aren’t a first, yet those are always a nice addition that makes what could have been machine-made music that sounds too perfect and not played by a hum – EDM for example – sound rawer, flawed (in a good way) and imbued with emotion. The song lacks a bit in the vocal department, mostly because it doesn’t show anything new or technical. Of course, there’s nothing wrong in playing it safe and not always go for that extra falsetto or vibrato, but the performance felt like it lacked something. Still an overall good performance.
The single wraps up with Looook UP !!!, song that tried to be many things at once but never fully ended up opting for one specific genre. Although it was barely hindering in the listening experience, there are multiple changes in tone and music genre throughout the song’s almost 3 minutes and a half. It was hard to impress, especially after Stardust, but truth is that the instrumental didn’t sound as good as the previous song. It’s still an entertaining song that ties up perfectly this set of 3 sweet, ethereal sounding songs, but lacking a bit in impact.
Before Dawn might not a noticeable upgrade or big change in sound in comparison with NEW WORLD, but it was a necessary and cautious step forward that continues to showcase how much potential Yuma Uchida has and just how much he can play around with other music genres and still sound great. Eventually, there will be a time in which he will end up settling for a music genre and not stray away much from it, so it’s enjoyable to listen to all these experiences of his that, in the meantime, continuously give his fans a lot of good tunes to enjoy.
Although the single is far from perfect, it’s impossible to ignore this lineup full of ethereal and easy-listening tunes that cater to everyone fan of feel good music and stellar vocals. Before Dawn is a single well worth checking out.
Before Dawn is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.