Sumi “Resurrect My Independence” (Self-released)
Sumiko Yamazaki, who records as Sumi, grew up in Japan, but moved to the United States in 2004 and now resides in New York. On her recently released debut album, “Resurrect My Independence,” she reflects on her experience existing in the two cultures through her music, singing in both English and Japanese across a roster of eight songs. Along with cowriter Samir Zarif, Yamazaki has created a dramatic first step, one hinting at potential moving forward.
“Resurrect My Independence” is an electronic-pop album with the drama turned up to high, but the actual sound of the songs here tends to be straightforward. Opening track “Find My Voice” bounces forward on a simple beat and synthesizer bursts, and the backdrop is built for Yamazaki’s voice to shine — and, sometimes, crisscross over itself. This approach to music — serviceable creations that are designed to emphasize the singer — works across this album, with highlights such as “Embrace the Days” and the skittery (but never annoying) “A Thousand Letters” doing their jobs well.
The focus, then, falls on Yamazaki’s voice. Her best mode — in either language — is when she’s allowed to stretch her vocals out and deliver dramatic numbers similar to what Japanese singer Salyu has been doing for the past decade. “Light In My Eyes” unfurls slowly and allows her to make every syllable shine. Yamazaki still has room for improvement on the more pop-oriented songs, wherein the faster pace often results in her vocals sounding a bit clunky. Still, “Resurrect My Independence” is a solid self-introduction and a good base to build from. (Patrick St. Michel)
Sumi’s “Resurrect My Independence is available at the artist’s Soundcloud page at soundcloud.com/sumimusicny/sets/resurrect-my-independence.