Monday, 27 July 2020

The Rain at the End of the Spring Creates A Brighter Sun in Kimura Yuka's 'rainy' (Mini-Album Review)

*The usual applies: All thoughts and opinions written within this post are my own, unless otherwise stated. Of course, your opinions, thoughts, feelings are all your own, and it is fine to disagree. We are human and do not share the same sentiments in regards to music, but please do respect my opinion and I in turn will respect yours. Thank you for your understanding.

**Of course, I am human and therefore subject to mistakes. This post is most likely riddled with them, so if you notice any, feel free to call me out on them. Thank you once again.

In which Chiima decides to take on the summer heat with a little end of Spring rain...

In her first physical release for the year of 2020, Kimura Yuka brings rainy, a mini-album packed with songs perfect for the end of Spring. From vibrant and energetic tracks to refreshing sounds that will soothe your soul, rainy is the perfect release for those who want something a little more simple in sound, but is still packed full of colour and delight.

Once again I have found someone new to write about on my blog, despite Kimura Yuka having been active as a singer since 2014. So, much like other posts that I have created this year, my review of rainy will serve as an introduction to her music and voice, and my overall thoughts on this mini-album and what it offers me as a listener. Of course, the impending question is - as always - this: is rainy worth the listen, and will it hold up until the end of the year?

Now is the time to talk about rainy and the kind of experience it delivers. Though we are now in the season of Summer, it's nice to think about the rain and look back at the beauty that Spring delivers. So, without further adieu, let's turn back time and return to a cooler time of the year. Oh, and don't forget your umbrella's, dear readers.

Listen with me on Spotify.

Release Date: June 25th, 2020
Price: ¥2,000
Versions: 2 (Physical / Digital)

Track List:
  1. Amayadori (雨宿り)
  2. rainy
  3. Start Line (スタートライン)
  4. Hitorigoto (ヒトリゴト)
  5. Daijoubu (大丈夫)
  6. LIFE
- Mini-Album Review -

1. Amayadori

Introducing the mini-album with a pleasant prologue, Amayadori is here to set the tone for the next five songs that are present on rainy. With the gentle pattering of the rain that is soon followed by a few keys on the piano, we are immediately thrown into the atmosphere and theme of this release.

Simple but effective, Amayadori does what a prologue is supposed to do: prepare us for the other five tracks on this release, and introduce us to the world of rainy.

In A Nutshell: It's a nice little prologue that sets up the theme of the mini-album well. If you like to hear the sound of the falling rain, then you will enjoy this prologue.

2. rainy

Prior to the mini-album being released, I was already a fan of rainy and the beauty that this song held. With Kimura Yuka's sweet vocals and the accompanying instrumental, I can not help but consider this a pleasant and enriching experience that I want to be a part of again and again.

With the gentle keys of the piano mixed with the sound of the pattering rain, rainy is an undeniably atmospheric piece that is here to soothe and relax the listener. Even when the instrumental begins to rise and other instruments are introduced, the song still feels gentle and relaxing. It is never cluttered or overwhelming, and once that crescendo hits its highest point, rainy feels nothing but complete.

The song is also incredibly catchy and memorable, and whilst it is not the brightest song on this release, it is certainly a high-point of the mini-album. I understand why rainy is the title track, and I enjoy how this song perfectly captures that image of a rainy day in its sound. rainy is stunning, and I can not get over how something this simple can be so effective in its composition.

The accompanying music video is just as simple as the song it has been paired with. Introducing a mixture of still imagery, filmed shots and lyrics, the music video for rainy perfectly captures the beauty that a rainy day can bring. Yes, it is a little grey in tone, but the serenity that these images hold is powerful, and I can not help but feel relaxed by the images of water, puddles, water droplets and the gorgeous sky that we have been gifted after the ran ends.

There is a sense of freedom to this music video, as well as a nostalgia that I equate to my childhood. Both the music video and song simply remind me of when I would go out into the rain and let it fall on my face, and how refreshed it made me feel. I love that this video can do that, but I also love how the imagery perfectly compliments the song despite the small amount of movement we have been given. It's perfectly serene, the pace matches the song, and the photographs are gorgeous. It's a well balanced music video that is here to soothe us, and it does a wonderful job in promoting all that this song is about: The rain.

There is a lot to love about rainy. It has been one of my most recent obsessions, and I continue to enjoy listening and singing along to its lyrics. It's powerful in its own way, and I think that this is the perfect track to lead this album.

rainy is a beautiful track, one that reminds me of the calm that the rain can bring. It does have its own unique power, of course, and if you stick with this song until the end, you will see exactly what I mean. If I had to try and explain this song as simple as I possibly can though, I would say that it feels like the beginning of the song is the beauty of the rainfall, and the crescendo of this song is the end of that rain as the sky becomes blue once more, because once that crescendo hits we are presented with the true vibrancy of this song and the real beauty that rainy holds.

In A Nutshell: A simple yet effective track, rainy is a beautiful experience that conjures images of the rain in your mind whenever you hear it. A worthy title track, rainy perfectly sets up the rest of the mini-album for its listeners.

3. Start Line

With rainy focusing on the serenity of a rainy day, Start Line feels more reminiscent of the sunshine after the rain has passed. With its vibrant instrumental and bright vocals, Start Line acts as a wonderful follow-up and is undoubtedly one of the strongest songs on this release.

Indeed, the song itself is not themed after the rain, but Start Line still manages to incorporate some of that influence in its sound. By making use of water droplet sound effects, as well as the use of a piano key to echo a similar image, we are able to form a cohesive narrative between both songs despite them being different in tone and style. This allows for a more effortless and fluid transition between both songs, which further establishes the connection between the tracks, all the while enhancing the image of rainy as a mini-album.

When it comes to the sound alone, it is undeniable that Start Line is a little more full when compared to its predecessor. With a few more instruments thrown into the composition, this track allows us to enjoy a bouncy and effortless experience that feels reminiscent of a beautiful spring day. It is energetic and bright, the music is uplifting from start to finish, and as a song it feels perfectly balanced when it comes to the instrumental and vocals. It is honestly a stunning piece of music that feels light and refreshing, and simply perfect for Spring.

Stepping into that theme of Spring, Start Line's music video is a peaceful experience that takes you on a relaxing journey with Kimura Yuka. Opening with a first person shot where we watch the singer walk, we are eventually treated to a third person view and continue our journey behind or beside Yuka as she continues her walk around the quiet town.

Start Line has a simple music video, but what it does right is provide us with a calm and joyful experience that feels like a personal walk with Kimura Yuka. It has a wonderful pace, the use of simple effects and the inclusion of some of the lyrics adds to the movement, and it has some nice shots that ultimately gives the viewer a feeling of being right there with Yuka as she sets off on her pleasant journey. It's a great video, though it may look a little too simple for some viewers.

With the initial release of this track taking place in April, there is no doubt that Start Line was created with the season of Spring in mind. In sound and vibe, this song feels just as refreshing and bright as a sunny spring day, and would be the perfect track to listen to if you decided to go for a walk. I honestly adore this song, and since I first heard it, I have listened to it non-stop.

Start Line is the song that I have heard the most from this release, and because of that it is one of my favourites, if not the favourite, from this entire track list. It's such a beautiful, upbeat song that has stuck with me for a fair few months now, it makes me smile and sway, and it really does put a spring in my step. I adore Start Line, and as of right now I feel like it is already one of my favourite songs from the year of 2020 for how bright and wonderful it is, and for how it makes the darkness fade away with its gorgeous instrumental accompanied by Kimura Yuka's impeccable voice.

A wonderful song that balances this mini-album perfectly, Start Line is simply incredible. I am so happy that I could discover Kimura Yuka's music this year, be introduced to this amazing song, and fall in love with the music that she creates. Start Line is truly a God Send.

In A Nutshell: Beautiful, calming and Spring-like in sound, Kimura Yuka's Start Line is the type of song that reminds you of a beautiful blue sky during a fine Spring day. Already a favourite from 2020, this song has me singing and dancing along, and just makes me smile! It's a feel-good track if ever there was one, so definitely give it a go.

4. Hitorigoto

One of few songs that did not come with a digital pre-release, Hitorigoto is a pleasant, mid-tempo song that from the on-set does not feel as memorable or exciting as the other songs, but packs a punch with each fresh listen. Featuring some breathy vocals from Kimura Yuka, it is undeniable just how mature yet freeing Hitorigoto feels as a song.

Of all the tracks, Hitorigoto is the one that feels the most ethereal in its composition. Though the songs instrumental includes the use of those simple piano keys playing in the background, it also makes use of a guitar and the drums, I believe, which allows the song to feel fuller in sound. Effects are also used pretty lightly on some of the piano keys during a short instrumental break, bringing that otherworldly vibe to life in this song. Coupled with those breathy vocals, Kimura Yuka feels less like a human in this song, and more like she is another being that has graced us with her presence on Earth.

I honestly love Hitorigoto, though my initial thoughts were less than impressed. I considered it nothing more than a pretty song before I truly delved into this album, and despite it not being my favourite of all the tracks, it is one of the strongest on here, in my mind. It's absolutely stunning in sound, Yuka's vocals are the best that they have been on this entire track list, and I just feel like I have been thrown into another world with this ethereal track. It's an incredible experience, one that I love reliving, and one that fits into this album fairly well, despite how different it feels to the other tracks.

Hitorigoto is a beautiful, promising track that will transport you to another world. It's an experience, and the more I listen to it, the more I fall in love with its sound and the way it makes me feel. I have such fun with Hitorigoto, and of all the songs it is the one that has grown with me the most, and the one that I respect the most on this track list. I love singing along to it, and in the end of it all, I have fallen deeply in love with the sound of Kimura Yuka's beautiful Hitorigoto.

In A Nutshell: Despite my initial feelings towards it, Hitorigoto is a song that I now consider the strongest on this track list. Beautiful, moving and the best performance from Kimura Yuka on this release by far, it's a song that may take a few listens to truly enjoy, but one that is worth all the time that I have given it.

5. Daijoubu

The song that may be considered the obligatory 'ballad' track, Daijoubu is a tune that follows Hitorigoto almost seamlessly. With its fitting sound that accompanies the rest of this release beautifully, Daijoubu has its moments of absolute serenity before rising to a crescendo that feels almost heavenly. It's open, brighter than expected, and touching. Of all the songs, this is the track that feels a little more personal; then again, it is a pop-ballad, so that sense of vulnerability and opening up to the listeners is to be expected.

As expected, I enjoy Daijoubu a lot and consider it a very beautiful, well composed track. It's pretty in-keeping with the rest of the album, as it offers a spring-like sound that is bright, open and refreshing, yet a little more touching in what it conveys. Yuka's vocals are simply breathtaking here as well, with her voice showcasing a cleaner, much clearer sound to her voice that matches well with the instrumental. I am simply stunned by how gorgeous she sounds here, though let's be real - I have been stunned by her voice from the beginning, but each song keeps intriguing and surprising me with just how beautiful she sounds.

I am simply enamoured by Daijoubu and Kimura Yuka, and enjoy the light and clear sound that this track has to offer. It's a pleasant experience, and though the instrumental itself is just as simple as the ones before - it isn't made up of heavy instruments, and is not overcrowded with a variety of sounds thrown in there for the sake of it - Daijoubu still feels full and powerful in its own, unique way.

It's a gorgeous track that perfectly balances out the rest of the single, and continues that hopeful, spring-like sound that runs through this entire release. Yes, it's a ballad, but it isn't a sad or desolate tune that brings you down; it's hopeful, bright and pure, and though it feels a little more vulnerable than the other tracks present on this release, it still invokes a sense of happiness within you.

In A Nutshell: A bright pop-ballad that is in-keeping with the hope this album has presented in past songs, Daijoubu is a wonderful song that ties the rest of the album together nicely. It's a great song that would have worked beautifully at the end of the album, but it still makes it work as the penultimate track on rainy.


To round off the release of rainy, we are gifted with LIFE, an aptly named track that brings forth the image of Spring bringing life back to our world after a dark winter. With a bright sound and emotive vocals from Kimura Yuka, LIFE is the perfect end to a beautiful mini-album that started with the rain and ended with the colour that the Spring gifts us.

LIFE is, first and foremost, a pretty song that really drives in the passion that Kimura Yuka has for singing. It is also another track that perfectly captures the essence of Spring in its sound in a pleasant, upbeat way that feels both relaxing and energetic. It doesn't go too hard or too fast in its instrumental or vocals either, which helps to make the transition between songs pretty seamless once again. LIFE offers a nice boost in energy, if anything, and never becomes overpowering, nor does it feel overwhelming against the other songs that came before it.

 Of all the songs, LIFE is possibly the most sophisticated in sound, which makes it a pretty good choice for the end of the mini-album. Thanks to this, LIFE does not feel as if it is undoing what all the other songs have provided up until this point, and only enhances the release by bringing it all together and closing the story that has been written here.

Once again, the accompanying music video is a simple affair that is set indoors, this time around. The setting is bright and open, and the addition of plants and alternative clips that include colour falling into water brings in that idea of the Spring and life beginning once more thanks to the seasons resetting.

Visually, LIFE is more of a sensory experience thanks to the use of colours, but like the previous two music videos for rainy and Start Line, this video offers a relaxing look and feel thanks to its pacing and the comfort it provides in its somewhat homey setting. The music video is as chilled out as you can get, and I love how bright and airy it feels despite Kimura Yuka being in an enclosed space. It looks great, I love the rustic vibe, and I think that this is a gorgeous, well directed music video that just makes you want to cherish being at home and doing what you enjoy most.

I obviously enjoy LIFE. It's a nice song, it soothes me whenever I hear it, and I think that it rounds off this mini-album nicely. With that said, it is not my favourite song on the release, and is probably the one that I would skip out of them all. I enjoy it when I am listening to the album as a whole, of course, but I can not deny that I would not exactly miss LIFE if I forgot to play it.

My opinion could change at a later date, of course, but for now it is not as impressive as the other songs, but as wind-down track for the end of the album? Yeah, it's good, and I enjoy how pretty and chilled out it is for the very last song on rainy.

In A Nutshell: A fitting end for what has been a wonderful release, LIFE brings us a little bit of colour in another Spring-fuelled track. It's a nice listening, and the perfect way to wind-down this gorgeous mini-album.

- Conclusion -

When it comes to rainy, it is undeniable just how invested I am in its sound. With a consistent theme running throughout, a perfectly balanced set of songs and the nostalgia of the spring just gone by, what is there about this that I shouldn't love? It is a joy to listen to, and I have happily been replaying Kimura Yuka's latest release and remembering just how good it is with each new listen.

I love everything about rainy. I love how it makes me sing and dance along to it no matter what track is playing, and I love the cohesive feel it has. It really is like the sunshine at the end of the rain; the opening is that gentle pattering of rain outside, and the middle to end of the album is the brightness of the sun that warms the pavements after the rain has passed. This is one of those albums which was put together so well that it is near enough perfect, and as a listener I can understand just why these songs have been ordered the way they are.

rainy is so damn good, and I am so happy that I could experience such joy with a mini-album such as this one.

What rainy delivers for me as a listener is the best of both worlds in music; it is both relaxing and serene, but bright and energetic, too. It has vibrancy and light in all of the songs, and though each song is different to the other, they are all tied to each other somehow. Whether it's by introducing rain drop sounds in the first three tracks, or the use of the piano in each instrumental, you know that these songs were made to be a part of this specific mini-album. It's simply incredible, and only furthers the wonderful, visual experience I continue to have whenever I replay rainy on any given day.

To end: rainy is beautiful in sound, and reminds you of the fading Spring as we head towards the summer. All of the songs match each other perfectly, and the order that the track list is in allows for an effortless, almost seamless flow between each track. All in all, this is a wonderful mini-album that I already consider a favourite of 2020, and one that I would listen to in conjunction with the amazing 20204, which has a similar feel and theme, except that 20204 is about the start of Spring, and rainy is more geared towards that idea of Spring coming to its end.

It's breath-taking, it's gorgeous, and Kimura Yuka is a fantastic singer. I can not praise this any more than I already have, and honestly? I am in love. Bring on the rain storms, and let me experience the beauty of the rain through rainy once again.

Favourite Songs: rainy, Start Line, Daijoubu

- Final Rating -

rainy is perfection, and it deserves nothing more than 5-stars. I love this mii-album with every fibre of my being right now, and I hope beyond all hope that it sticks with me to the end of the year. God, I love it so much.

I don't think that this release will be everyone's cup of tea, but I do think that it will surprise a few who decide to chance it and have a listen. Regardless of your style of music though, please check Kimura Yuka's music out and see what you think! She is an incredible singer, and where this might not appeal to others, it may spark an interest in her other work, at least. So, yeah... give Kimura Yuka a chance, and check out her music!

Of course I hope that you all enjoyed this review, no matter what you enjoy listening to. For those who have listened to rainy though, what are your thoughts on it, and did you enjoy the release? And if you are a seasoned fan or casual listener of this wonderful songstress, do you have a favourite single or album? Please let me know~

And finally, thank you to everyone for reading this post and getting to the end. I appreciate your time, and I hope that it was not too bad a read for those who actually endured my drivel. Ultimately, I hope this has introduced you to a new singer, some new music, or at least given you the desire to check out something a little different from your usual artists, groups and soloists.

Thank you once more, and until the next post I will have to bid you all adieu. Please take care of yourselves, stay happy and healthy, take care of your physical and mental wellbeing, think of those around you and - of course - enjoy your music.

Much Love and sing-alongs,

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