Apparently this album has something to do with some traditional stories. In fact, some aspects in this work imply relevance to existing stories including The Wizard of Oz, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and even Moby-Dick, but what would you say if I decide that it really has nothing to do with any of them? If it does have some, the connections should be on the imagery level, not on the immediate level. As always, Chihiro would tell us that there's no meaning in the titles (or has she been saying so because she wanted to hide her embarrassment?)—as far as I know, there has been no DOROTHY interview or even sales promotion activities aside from the YouTube uploads.
Having watched the YouTube PVs, I expected a rock-oriented album but as it turned out, DOROTHY is packed with excellent ballads. This way she never goes contrary to our expectations in that she never fails to betray our expectations.
1. A WHITE WHALE IN MY QUIET DREAM
It appears Chihiro likes to place a prologue to her works, like this. It's an interesting tryout but isn't it a pity that too many notes are matched to one syllable here—as in many J-pop songs that have katakana English words—to sound like "A big why to whale"? She may refuse to make changes even if somebody around her suggests a change, though.
So far as the Japanese translation in the booklet reads, "goes just right" means "goes in the correct direction."
This title should in fact be pronounced as "Yoen," which shares the same pronunciation with an adjective that aptly qualifies this song's PV: "妖艶" (voluptuously beautiful), but we can't be sure since—as is often the case with her songs—the title word doesn't appear in the lyrics. Needless to say, I first heard this song as a work for the CD single and did not like it very, very much. But when I heard it in this album, I finally realized that this is a knockout tune. This straight love song sings about a strong, passionate woman who wants "to turn into a migratory bird and carry you off."
Seasonal flavors—a breath of spring / summer winds / bunches [of fruit] in autumn / a sigh in winter—are ingeniously woven into the lyrics in a beautiful way.
There should be pros and cons around these processed vocals. Although the PV was a question mark to me, this song doesn't seem so bad on this CD. Incidentally, aren't her recent PVs contributing to turning people off rather than driving sales?
This nostalgic intro sounds like a good old kayokyoku and her sticky singing is an all-new attempt. The words "Hey, Storyteller, don't make me bored... / I want to have fun excessively... / I want to act contrary to the expectations" seem to play a role in introducing the next track. Does this storyteller refer to Chihiro herself?
5. STEAL THIS HEART
"Getting carried away" is a phrase that was created for this PV. I'm really glad that she has gotten well enough. (And I don't mean to be sarcastic or ironic.) Very playful.
6. I Pass By
This is a hot number that presents a sharp contrast to the single Darksmoke Version. But isn't it nice? In this album, the first half of fun and games reaches the climax here.
A new but familiar instance of her works that sing about hopeless situations: Having lost the way home, where will [I/we/you/he/she/they] return? / Where will [I/we/you/he/she/they] go tomorrow?
This intro is longer than on the CD single. It surely is a beautiful song but I'm afraid it gives a little bit weak impression in this album. The ballad part opens here.
8. Losing a distance
This is another delicate love song that is filled with a sense of loneliness. These words present a feminine image (in a traditional Japanese sense) that is very different from that in "陽炎":
I can't go any farther
It's already too far here...
If left this way, I'll sink deep in your sea
While losing a distance.
I'm wondering which type of woman Chihiro is.
A sad song. Rather than singing about her personal things and emotions as she used, she recently seems to be inclined to write something more universal like this:
The last words cross my path
Just like you
The melody that doesn't reach my ears
While I'm walking in tears.
Sounds very Japanese to the extent that the chorus part will be almost like an enka if kobushi (a kind of melisma) is effectively used. It sings about both the evanescence and strength of love and life:
Fireflies, soar high up from this planet
Dance as you light up far and near
You were the person who taught me
That the moment is eternal.
This album is concluded by this magnificent manifestation of her new determination:
I will give this [worthless] voice
To anyone who may wish for it
Because it isn't what I've been protecting all along
When I go through the real night
When I realize the real pain
When I see the evanescence and beauty of this world
I will choose to stand on this ground all alone.
Although it may have to bear the brunt of the criticism for its lack of focus, DOROTHY is a mature album in which Chihiro tells us her own original story. I was also impressed by the superior sound quality. And the most important thing is that her condition here is very good. This is a reassuring news.
(All quotations are given from respective works listed above. Original text copyrighted by Chihiro Onitsuka. Translated and quoted by Folia in compliance with the Japanese Copyright Act. The above translations may be superficial rather than deliberate, and are intended for your information only.)
I checked JASRAC's musical piece copyright database and confirmed that "陽炎" is intended to read "Kagero(u)."
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