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Angela Aki - Warrior of the Heart

[back cover]
Catalog Number: ESCL-2770 (limited edition ESCL-2768/9)
Released On: January 18, 2006
Composed By: Angela Aki, William Patrick Corgan (3), Nobuo Uematsu (4)
Arranged By: Angela Aki, Motoko Matsuoka
Published By: Epic Records
Recorded At: Otoya, Sterling Sound
Format: 1 CD (limited edition includes bonus DVD)
Tracklist:

Disc One
01 - Warrior of the Heart
02 - The Sky Always Cries
03 - TODAY
04 - Eyes On Me -featured in FINAL FANTASY VIII-
Total Time:
16'49"

Bonus DVD
01 - Warrior of the Heart -music video-
02 - Final Fantasy XII Premiere Movie featuring "Kiss Me Good-Bye"
Total Time:
7'41"

Let's begin this review by making a few clarifying statements. A great number of online shops advertised this single as an FFXII single. This is only a half-truth. The FFXII theme song is called "Kiss Me Good-Bye," and is found only on the DVD portion of this single. Hence, if you purchase the regular edition, you get nothing FFXII-related, though you still get the cover of Eyes On Me. The song "Warrior of the Heart" (in Japanese, "Kokoro no Senshi") has nothing to do with Final Fantasy XII. With that said, let's talk about Angela Aki.

Aki is a piano-pop-diva. Think Tori Amos, but half-Japanese and somewhat less serious. The glasses give her a bit of a Lisa Loeb feel. She's also rather new to the scene, but she definitely isn't a half-bad vocalist. However, some of her songs have failed to impress this reviewer. "Warrior of the Heart" is the specific target of my complaint. If I hear Angela sing the phrase "yeah-ee-yeah" one more time, I'm going to vomit. The song is simply too repetitive to be considered a decent pop ballad.

However, the B-side "The Sky Always Cries" is a different ordeal. Though this song is also simple, it has a unique sound that manages to blend a fast waltz with a snare drum march and a pop piano sound. This song took me by surprise, and had me quickly falling in love with the "Aki" sound. I wish this were the actual single, but it's too under-produced to be noticed by the mainstream media, I suppose.

When I first saw the name "William Patrick Corgan" in the composer information line, I immediately recognized the name: Billy Corgan (of the Smashing Pumpkins). "Today" is a cover song, and it works pretty nicely. Aki sings the verses in Japanese, and then reprises with the chorus in English. This was one of my favorite songs as a kid, and I was very impressed with Aki's piano-only cover.

Finally, we get Aki's cover of the FFVIII theme song, Eyes On Me. Compared to the original vocalist, Faye Wong, Aki is much better at singing in English. As such, if you had previously found yourself struggling to understand the lyrics, now is your chance to get a good idea of what the song actually says. Aki also adds a few new chord progressions and breaks to the song, and the result is splendid. Just Aki and a piano: that's all you really need.

On the bonus DVD, there's a music video for Warrior of the Heart (it's boring), and then there's a trailer for FFXII featuring "Kiss Me Good-Bye." This trailer is the primary reason for my purchasing this single, and I have to say that I was pleased. This trailer got me very excited for the game, and the vocal theme song (which has its own single release coming in March) is a beautiful song as well.

If you're a Final Fantasy fan, don't buy this single unless you can get the limited edition. If you're an Angela Aki fan, or think you should be an Angela Aki fan, get this single before it goes out of print! I'm glad I made the purchase, even though I only liked all the songs that weren't the featured single.

Reviewed by: Patrick Gann



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