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Two Tatsuro Yamashitas exist in 2022. There’s Tatsuro Yamashita, the patron saint of city pop and a musical symbol for all things bubble-era Japan. As a younger generation in Japan and abroad long for the perceived ease and excess of the 1970s and ’80s, the singer-songwriter has become the embodiment of those good ol’ days. His hits play in YouTube compilations of older Japanese pop, with titles like “warm nights in Tokyo” and “a 80s japan vibes playlist pt.4.” He’s talked about a lot online, but often in the past tense.

Then there’s Tatsuro Yamashita, the 69-year-old pop tinkerer still exploring his craft on new album “Softly,” his 14th full-length release and first in 11 years. He’s not looking back or chasing nostalgia — something younger bands here have been doing en masse for the past five years — but building on his musical foundation.

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