Seldom do artists combine taste and talent
in equal measures, but listening to the assured self-titled debut album from young R&B
singer-songwriter Junpei Shiina, it would appear he has both in droves.
The older brother of pop idol Ringo Shiina, Junpei starts with the sophisticated sounds of
Miles Davis-era cool jazz, mixes in elements of '70s funk, and polishes it all off with
the exacting production standards of contemporary acid jazz.
Its not surprising that Shiinas debut should sound so mature. The
supple-voiced 27-year-old Saitama native has been playing music since he was five, and has
spent the better part of the past decade absorbing influences from Tokyos eclectic
nightlife scene. Hes also enlisted for his debut some heavy hitters, including the
formidable acid jazz producer Shinichi Osawa and expatriate American session musician
Shiina and his band the Evil Vibrations launch the album with the breezy, jazz-inflected
EV, which begins to heat up as funky African percussion elements work their
way in toward the end of the song.
The album then proceeds through a variety of tracks that range from the Earth, Wind and
Fire grooves of Shorai (Future), about the vast possibilities that
lie within the encounter of a man and a woman, to the atmospheric slow-burn blues of
Kohiya (Café). He winds up the album on a personal note, vowing
that, Music is my sanctuary, music is my life, on the upbeat house number
Along with talents like UA and Kei Kobayashi, Shiina represents a new wave of Japanese
soul singers creating a brand of accessible music with border-crossing potential.
plays Shibuya Club Quattro on September 7. See listings for
for listings: Jumpei Shiina Contemporary soul vocalist. Shibuya Club Quattro, 9/7, 7pm,
JY3800. Info: Hot Stuff 5786-8683.