Anna Takeuchi - at TWO

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These days singer-songwriters might be 5 yen for a dozen, but listening to “at TWO”, the second EP from precocious talent Anna Takeuchi, is like dropping your cup of coffee and seeing the pieces smash all over the floor in slow motion. How on earth did I miss that?

That’s exactly the feeling I had when I first heard “Free! Free! Free!” I thought I was hearing something like Toki Asako or Hitomi Toi, a mature sound with an 80’s throwback vibe and disco strings (aww yeah), but it turns out Takeuchi is only 20 years old. It appears we have her parents to thank for the 70’s and 80’s influence, and it provides the foundation for her sound. Unlike standard young guitar playing singer-songwriters, she has versatility and the ability to cross/blend genres from jazz, easy listening, soul, folk and rock, and she even raps a little. That’s what you get on “Free! Free! Free!” and “TOKYO NITE,” the latter especially with the moody city pop feels as she sings (and raps) about dancing in the world’s greatest metropolis. These tracks are more ambitious than her more basic debut EP “at ONE,” and begin to demonstrate just some of the wonderful possibilities available with her talents.

Meanwhile “ペチュニアの花” is a more classic acoustic guitar track with a little Norwegian Wood feeling in the middle. While she’s not George Harrison, it’s amazing that she only started playing the guitar in junior high school, and the interplay between the melody and accompaniment is never dull throughout. The song gives more focus to her voice, which is lovely, honest and playful, it’s that girl-next-door you fall in love with so easily (and then regret because she’s so out of your league).

As with “at ONE,” she also does a cover of a pop classic, this time it’s Guns n’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” Again, it would have been easy to do an acoustic version and call it a day, but here we get something much more interesting with a jazz/easy-listening arrangement featuring horns from Kobayashi Yosuke and Tanase Yuuya from Calmera. In a nice nod to the original, the ending rocks out on electric guitar. Unless you’re a one-eyed Gunner fan, you’ll definitely get a kick out of it.

Having signed with Teichiku and Sony, and kicking off an all-star tour with members of Hi-Standard, UNCHAIN and Schroeder-Headz as her backing band, it won’t be long before the world figures out what’s going on. This bird has already flown, so we’ll just have to be content to watch her rise into the stratosphere now. It should be a heck of a ride.

Royce Leong