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In the middle of The Bawdies’ “There’s No Turning Back,” is “Sad Song,” a lament of lost love that comes dangerously close to being a Matchbox 20-styled ballad better suited for a breakup scene in some cheesy romance flick than a rock ‘n’ roll record. And while by no means their best material, the credit for the Tokyo quartet managing to make the track work at all goes solely to frontman Ryo “Roy” Watanabe and his fantastic soulful singing. Emulating legendary U.S. crooners such as Sam Cooke with ease, Watanabe’s remarkable, raspy vocals have played a major role in making The Bawdies one of the most popular act’s in Japan’s revivalist rock scene.

The rest of “There’s No Turning Back” is filled with the classic R&B-infused sounds that people have come to expect from the group. The bluesy, Rolling Stones-ish single “It’s too Late” already topped local radio charts late last year and still retains its infectious power on the album. “Hot Dog” mixes in a healthy dose of gospel-inspired goodness with the wailing Watanabe assuming the role of musical preacher on the energetic, uplifting cut. Although the dull “Try it Again” and “I Want to Thank you” weigh down the backend of the disc, they are quickly forgotten once the band kick into wild, funky closer “Movin’ and Groovin’.” An unquestionable highlight, Watanabe channels James Brown throughout the track and growls “Baby, there’s no turning back” just before it fades out.

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