Hata Motohiro is the Japanese equivalent of the likes of James Morrison, James Blunt or any other male singer-songwriter who sells himself with their warm and husky vocal tones and unwinding acoustic guitar backdrop. The Yokohama bred singer’s voice is like no other in the Japanese musical landscape. The mahogany, rusty character that blends well with the classic soft-rock arrangements infuses a new life in the genre itself and the audible consciousness of listeners.
The earthiness and emotional depth achieved by Hata transcends those of his contemporaries. 僕らをつなぐもの ‘Bokura wo Tsunagu mono’ (‘The thing that connects us’) is a true-to-form saccharine love song filled with waves of lush strings, a sepia-shaded acoustic guitar accompaniment and a lyrical vocal melody, all of which are ingredients that could cast one’s mind back to the ballads of Elton John.
To add to his already distinct musical personality, his alluring vocal range that extends to falsetto proportions plays a considerable role in subtly lifting the emotional stratosphere of songs like メトロフィルム ‘Metro Film’, and that warmth of feeling surely resonate around the listener’s heart.
Hata’s musical palette has a good variety that takes the listener through a gentle roller coaster, perhaps determined by the array of influences that Hata looks up to. キミ、メグル、ボク ‘Kimi, Meguru, Boku’ (‘You, Turn, Me’) and its rhythmic propulsion, colourful instrumentation (in particular the addition of an electric organ) and the emotionally amplified chorus melody captures the rock ‘n’ roll era of Rod Stewart to great potential. By contrast, ひまわりの約束 ‘Himawari no Yakusoku’ (‘Promise of a Sunflower’) is a mellow number, opening with a sweet guitar phrase that reverberates a John Mayer-like sensation that blankets the listener in an intimate and pleasant affair. The song gradually makes way for a cradle-rocking drum line, sumptuous melodic phrases from the violins. It also demonstrates Hata’s virtuous lyrical writing and his ability to encapsulate the narrative and morals of the movie it was written for (the movie ‘Stand by me Doraemon’).
Hata Motohiro has successfully engraved his name on the Japanese singer-songwriter ‘wall of sound’, as he manages to find a balance between the universal charm of guitar-driven soft rock arrangements and his efforts to bring a fresh perspective of the Japanese singer-songwriter tradition.
- 朝が来る前に Asa Ga Kuru Mae Ni (‘Before the Morning Comes’)
- 水彩の月 Suisai no Tsuki (‘The Watercoloured Moon’)
© Isaku Takahashi