Music / CD Reviews | LISTENING POST

Capeson mixes R&B with U.K. indie on 'Hiraeth'

by Ronald Taylor

Special To The Japan Times

Capeson “Hiraeth” (Tokyo Recordings)

Fledging label Tokyo Recordings gained significant buzz after its founder, Nariaki Obukuro (N.O.R.K.), collaborated with Hikaru Utada on her comeback album, “Fantome.”

Weeks later, the label released “Hiraeth”, the debut album by singer-songwriter Capeson, who was born in Tokyo but spent his childhood in Boston. His upbringing is reflected on “Hiraeth,” which blends R&B elements with U.K. alternative, as he sings in English.

The album’s standout track, “Leave You Alone,” recounts lost love. Capeson seems to only half accept the love is gone, a sentiment that is reflected in the range of his vocals. Sometimes he sings with a subdued quality, sometimes he shouts, and, as the song climaxes, he goes into falsetto and brings in strings to add to the drama.

“Believe My Eyes” is the closest “Hiraeth” comes to an upbeat moment. It’s a stirring pop-rock anthem with a backing chorus that adds an unexpected touch of grandeur. The sing-along aspect of it came as a pleasant surprise.

A lot of J-pop tracks sound like they’re praying a TV show will pick them up for a theme tune. “Hiraeth” has tracks that sound similar, but his sound like they could back American dramas as opposed to Japanese ones. “Sunshine”, which features production and backing vocals by English musician Aqualung, is a bassier version of the type of song you might hear on the TV show “Grey’s Anatomy,” which is not farfetched seeing as how Aqualung’s music has been featured on the show before.

Capeson’s debut sees him taking a spot alongside the likes of Suchmos, cero and Cicada in taking R&B and giving it an indie slant. Let’s hope Tokyo Recordings can keep up the good work.

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