Joshua “Dear Vocalist Xtreme Entry No.2” (Review)

Joshua brings an eclectic entry to Dear Vocalist‘s Xtreme series. The single, although not an improvement in comparison with the previous one, is still an interesting entry that has its highlights in an emotional ballad and Nobunaga Shimazaki‘s vocals.

Title: "Dear Vocalist Xtreme" Entry No.2 Joshua
Label: Rejet
Release date: 18/04/2018
Genre: Rock/Ballad

Tracklist:

1 - アメィジング
2 - Dear...
3 - Exciting days [drama]
4 - liar [drama]
5 - Say good-bye to the past. [drama]

Track by track analysis:

1 – アメィジング

The single kicks off with a skate-punk vibe, going in the opposite of all other vocalists in this series that performed dance/electronica imbued songs for this series. Amazing counts with a relatively simple and straightforward instrumental – characteristical of skate-punk -, that brings to the spotlight fast guitar riffs, catchy hooks, a driving bass line and simple, snary drums. The instrumental is playful and filled with energy exuding, at the same time, a laidback vibe that makes this song an enjoyable listen.

Nobunaga Shimazaki‘s performance is upbeat, matching the instrumental’s energy. But there’s more to it than just his energy. Shimazaki showcased his skills with a couple of glimpses of his stable falsetto and an overall solid performance. Overall, the song seems to lack the impact that other of his songs had, still this is an entertaining song with performance worth checking out. 4/5

2 – Dear…

Wraping up this single is “Dear…“. This is the first ballad for Joshua and it’s a sweet one. The listener can feel the warmth in the snary drums and acoustic guitar melodies and longing in the piano melody enriching the instrumental. The verses are quiet and acoustic oriented, counting with a simple mix of piano, acoustic guitar licks, drums and bass. Tension rises in the pre-chorus and the chorus introduces us to rhythm electric guitars with emotional chord progressions shining in that section. Contrary to what would be expected from a rock ballad, there’s no major guitar solo in this song.

Vocally, Shimazaki impresses with an emotional performance. Rather than showcasing his range, this song demanded that the singer knew how to convey the feelings in the lyrics, make those hit the listener and match the emotional instrumental. After listening to his performance, it’s safe to say that Shimazaki sure knows what he’s doing, as he managed to deliver an emotional performance that, at times, left us in awe (a big highlight is his progression in the pre-chorus). “Dear…” stands out as the best song on this release. 5/5

Final rating: 

First things first, for those that have been following this franchise closely and especially the Xtreme series, you’ve probably noticed that all vocalists have at least one electronica-oriented song (even those that usually don’t incorporate electronica in their music i.e Judah). However, Joshua‘s entry is the only one that doesn’t have any electronica on it, even when he’s had electronica elements in his songs before (i.e Artist Night).

Instead he brought to the table the carefree vibe of skate-punk in “Amazing” and showed an emotional side in “Dear…“. These two polarizing songs provided fans with two new things: a ballad and a punk-rock tune. In Joshua’s first release (he’s only been part of the Dear Vocalist franchise since the Wired series) he presented two upbeat pop-rock tunes but this time around, he avoided bringing more of the same and introduced the listeners to fresh elements. Out of the two attempts, it seems that ballads do fit best with Joshua’s vibe as well as Shimazaki‘s vocals. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the punk-rock attempt in “Amazing” wasn’t good, it just was satisfying enough.

On the vocal end, Nobunaga Shimazaki showed what he’s capable of. He’s vastly improved as a singer in the past few years and is now a reliable singer, capable of impressing with his range and quality at any given time (his falsetto in Amazing and his emotional performance in Dear… prove it). His mid-tones are solid and he’s got a good control over his tone, leading to comfortable, natural performances.

While this single isn’t particularly an improvement in comparison with his Wired series entry – far superior in quality -, this entry is still an entertaining one that adds some fresh pieces to Joshua‘s repertoire and showed Shimazaki‘s potential on the vocal end. Definitely a release worth picking up.

“Dear Vocalist Xtreme” Entry No.2 Joshua is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.

 

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