Seijin Noborikawa: Fountain of Songs

The veteran singer and sanshin player Seijin Noborikawa, who will be 78 later this year, has a new album released on the Respect label on April 14th. The album Uta nu Ijyun: Fountain of Songs will be his first for two years.

There has been a lot of activity on the Seigwa front over the past decade or so. Since the death of Rinsho Kadekaru he became the Okinawan roots singer with the highest profile. He also appeared as an actor in two Okinawan films, and his extrovert character has played up to all the attention he has attracted. A ‘Best of’ compilation It’s Only Seigwa was released to celebrate his 75th birthday and then he made the Suiko Jizai album in 2008 which contained almost all traditional songs.

Cover of the new album Uta nu Ijyun: Fountain of Songs

The new album contains five original songs by Seigwa. These include the opening title track ‘Uta nu Ijyun’, and his ‘Ikema Ohashi’ which is about the bridge which connects Ikema and Miyako islands. There is also a version of the traditional Miyako ‘Ayagu’. Another original song is ‘Uta nu Kukuru’, while the album closes with the new song ‘Ichin Kariyushi’. Seigwa has naturally slowed down a bit over the years and is no longer the fast sanshin player of old but he still manages to take the traditional ‘Nunnuku Soisoi’ at quite a pace here. He is also assisted by two young musicians, Hajime Nakasone on sanshin and Natsuki Nakamura with sanba.

Lately Seijin Noborikawa’s playfulness has meant that some of his live performances have seemed a bit half-hearted and he appears to be just as interested in joking and eccentricity as in making music. In the studio it’s obviously a different matter and when he concentrates – as on this album – he is still able to make quality recordings. The new album sticks to the basics and is not significantly different from his other recent releases. It is still a rewarding listen though, and is notable for showing us that Seigwa isn’t just a master performer of the old songs but is still very active as a songwriter.

Explore posts in the same categories: Okinawan Albums

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