This is a four track mini-album (or maxi-single?) released by singer and sanshin player Mika Yonamine who was born in Osaka and now lives in Okinawa. In 2006 she won the Kyoen no Shimauta contest when she was just 17 and this is her debut CD.
Yonamine sings so beautifully and with such nuanced emotion that it comes as a bit of a surprise to discover that this is her first recording. Her sanshin is joined now and then by keyboards and guitars, but only to add a few touches and it never descends into the tackiness of some other shimauta performances.
The first song ‘Harumachibana’ was written by Heikou Miyagi who also writes another of the songs, ‘Shin Nageki no Koi’, on which he and Yonamine share the vocals. The one traditional track is a lovely version of ‘Nakuni’ which then runs straight into ‘Yanbaru Timatu’.
There can be no doubt that Okinawan music is still in a healthy state when there are young singers like this around. Yonamine is excellent on this short set of generally slower songs. A whole album like this might be too one-paced but at around 20 minutes there are no doubts whatever about this one. It’s simply superb.
Aisho no Uta is released on Mika Yonamine’s own label. (MIKA-01)