Yoshiko Sai – Mikko (Stowing Away) (Bamboo)

This spectacular album came across my eye on the shelf and purchased due to the sheer magnetism of the cover. Originally released in 1976, Yoshiko Sai sails across an evening torch song with command and power. Taking center stage, her warm, soulful tone matches the subtle arrangements she compliments. The lushly performed tracks take on a cocktail lounge feel that could only come from the seventies, with piano, guitar, bass and drums accompanying her. One gets the feel of a smoke-filled nightclub as Sai and her band get increasingly mid-tempo. But Sai shines the most on the ballads like “Kinu No Michi (Silk Road)” and “Nemuri No Kuni (Land of Sleep)” where her emotive inflections highlight the minimal arrangements. Sung entirely in Japanese the album document the fantastic journey’s a female protagonist who constantly imagines stowing away on ships to far off lands and the adventures and love affairs that ensue. The big head-scratcher here is the continual appearance of a Sitar, which gives the record an oddly psychedelic feel. Unlike any other album that comes to mind, Mikko is a captivating listen from start to finish.

by Swingset Magazine on 11/4/2013 in Reviews | Tags: ,