Takashi Nakagawa: Ginga No Hotori, Rojo No Hana

This is the new solo album from Japanese singer and songwriter Takashi Nakagawa who is best known as the leader of roots-rock band Soul Flower Union. It follows his similarly produced solo album of last year Kaidosuji No Chakuchi Shinai Blues (At the Roadside, No Touchdown Blues) and like that album it has 14 tracks. Nakagawa sings and plays acoustic guitar as well as sanshin, bouzouki and bass. Guests on the album are Soul Flower’s Okinawa-based singer Hideko Itami (hayashi), Mihoco Kamimura (backing vocals), Keisuke Ota (fiddle), Wataru Okuma (clarinet), and Shinya Okuno (accordion, synthesiser).

Ginga No Hotori, Rojo No Hana (A Homeless Flower at the Edge of the Galaxy) is being promoted as Nakagawa’s ‘second’ solo album, though his excellent Lost Homeland from 1998 was also a solo project under the name Soul-cialist Escape. It’s very much like its immediate predecessor and is almost an extension of last year’s album with its more acoustic sound. In this respect it’s quite different from Nakagawa’s Soul Flower albums with their busy productions.

As before, the 14 tracks contain a mixture of newly written songs by Nakagawa and some covers and re-recordings of his own songs. There are also two instrumentals. The four new recordings of older Nakagawa songs include ‘Sora’ and ‘Shio no Michi’. There is also a cover of ‘Seikatsu no Gara’ a song with words by the late Okinawan poet Yamanokuchi Baku. Meanwhile ‘Hore Hore Bushi’ is a traditional Japanese song and ‘Onna wa Tsurai o’ is written by Kazumi Nikaido.

Of the new songs the opening track ‘Soredemo Watashi Umi ga Suki’ sets the general tone of reflection after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster which hit Japan last year. There are also nods in the direction of Okinawa and its many problems with the American military bases. Nakagawa’s band took part in the massive anti-nuclear power protest event organised by Ryuichi Sakamoto and they have also organised supplies for the people of Fukushima still suffering in the aftermath of the disaster. This album may not be Nakagawa’s finest but it’s a heartfelt release which deserves attention.

Ginga No Hotori, Rojo No Hana is released on 28th November on BM tunes.

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