2018 saw Meimi Tamura make her major debut as a solo artist. The former ANGERME (アンジュルム) member returned to the mainstream music scene in Japan after spending time working in stage musicals. She has hit the ground running, releasing 2 singles in the latter half of the year. Her solo debut single Kagayaite - My dream goes on – (輝いて ～My dream goes on～), released in September 2018, was followed in December by Mahou wo Ageru yo ~Magic In The Air~ (魔法をあげるよ ～Magic In The Air～). Both of these singles showed she was returning not as the idol that everyone remembered, instead she returned as a powerful soloist – her distinctive vocals filled with raw emotion and a strength that takes you on a journey in every song. Clearly, her time working in musical theatre was not wasted.
The influence of the stage is not hard to see in the songs, both of these singles would not be out of place in a stage musical. The singer on stage conveying the emotions and story of her character to a captivated audience. Indeed, they both have laid the groundwork for her future career and separated the soloist from the idol with a clear distinction.
20 March 2019 saw the release of her first mini album. Comprised of 6 songs Sprout continues to build on the foundations that were laid by the first two singles released the previous year. The six tracks bringing with them a mixture styles and a variety of emotions that will make you smile and potentially have you reaching to wipe away tears. The tracks are: –
1. First Flash
2. 1, 2, 3, Go!!
3. 無形有形 (Mukei Yukei)
4. 体温 (Taion)
5. カガミよカガミ (Kagami yo Kagami )
6. 歌が咲く (Uta ga Saku)
First Flash – The first track on the album and possibly one of the most striking songs to reach my ears in recent years. The song has so much raw emotion, it conjures images of someone standing on a dark stage in a single spot of light before a silent crowd as they sing. A beautiful, yet also hauntingly sorrowful, an aria that pierces deep into the depths of the soul. The flow of the music and her vocals changing from strong projecting output to a more tender, softer voice combine together to convey feelings of hope and pain to the listener. A feeling that lingers long after the music fades out.
Mukei Yukei – Track three on the album, it has an unusual feel to it on the first listen, the clipped notes of the instruments giving life to the music that was not expected. But it works well, the sounds of the music and the flow of the vocals conjuring images of the kind of lounge bar scene you might see in a movie from the 1950s or 1960s. A singer walking amongst a room of tables, pausing occasionally at them to give a glance to someone sitting there. There is a moment in the song where Meimi is almost having a conversation with herself. A discussion between multiple people carried off in a sort of harmonised monologue. It is a break in the song that always makes me smile. Although it was a bit of an unexpected change in style, in the beginning, I think it shows another facet of her talent, the power of her voice is ever present but it is slightly more restrained and there is a fun feeling to the flow of the song.
Uta ga Saku – The album finishes much in the same way that it started. With visions of a solitary figure on the stage, bringing the show to a close with a powerful and emotionally charged song that Meimi performs in a way that belies her young age. The music plays a supporting role throughout the majority of the near 7 minutes long song. More subdued in the early stages and particularly during the verses it builds alongside her voice into crescendos at the chorus and a during a spell through the middle of the song before returning to the background as Meimi’s voice begins to trail off and the song and with it the story of the album draws to a close.
Overall the album is a good mixture of songs. Each track is well composed and performed superbly, every word carrying a spot of colour to complete an image in the mind. Judging on the style of the songs it seems that the stage has been a big influence on her, the songs would all fit in on the stage as part of a musical.
Personally, I would like to see her really go all out with a high tempo pop song, something that would really get you tapping your feet and wanting to dance and cheer. Summertime (to be found on her first single) and 1, 2, 3, Go! are both indicators that she is capable of performing such songs well. But perhaps, at least for now, she wants to distinguish the singer she has become from the idol that she once was.
Her solo career is still in its infancy but judging from the strength of the 2 singles and the well-rounded performance on Sprout it seems that she has a very bright future ahead of her. Including her second one-man live on 30th of June 2019.
Sprout gives her a strong platform from which she can continue to grow and blossom into what I think will be a sensational solo vocalist. One to watch in the future.