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Junpei Shiina


Sony Music

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.

It’s not surprising that Shiina’s 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 Tokyo’s eclectic nightlife scene. He’s also enlisted for his debut some heavy hitters, including the formidable acid jazz producer Shinichi Osawa and expatriate American session musician Kaleb James.

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 “Music Maker.”

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.

Junpei Shiina plays Shibuya Club Quattro on September 7. See listings for details.
for listings: Jumpei Shiina Contemporary soul vocalist. Shibuya Club Quattro, 9/7, 7pm, JY3800. Info: Hot Stuff 5786-8683.


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