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Friday, April 7, 2006


Karin "Bright"

"I first started listening to music when I was about 7 or 8. Then, when I was 10, I started performing, just like all the other kids -- standing in front of my mirror using the TV remote control as a microphone singing 'Bad' and 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson. But that wasn't good enough for me. I always wanted the real thing, a career in music," said Karin last week.

In high school she was into J-Pop and punk rock and then at university she joined a gospel choir and started listening to reggae, R&B, hip-hop and jazz.

With this background you'd expect Karin's five-track debut "Bright" to be an eclectic mix of styles. It's not.

It's a record of laid-back soulful pop. But it's Karin's beautiful note-perfect vocals dominating each track that mark this out as a cut above the mainstream pop cack that dominates Japan's airwaves.

Karin (full name Karin Yoshikawa) writes all the words and melodies and works with guitarist DSK (who used to be half of soul duo Port of Notes) to flesh out the songs, mainly with acoustic guitar and minimalist electronic beats.

The stand-out song here is "Summer Breeze," whose gentle tinkling piano and echoes of surf guitar create an ambient soundscape -- definitely one for the iPod this summer.

While 25-year-old Karin's solo career is taking off, she still sings in jazz/hip-hop unit Jua led by Josei Sato, the pianist of Tokyo bop 'n' roll outfit Soil & "Pimp" Sessions.

For Karin, the days of a remote-control and a bedroom mirror seem to be over for good. And for us, a beach, a hammock, an exotic cocktail and the sound of gentle waves merging with Karin's sweet intonations tickling our ears is what we can look forward to come the hot weather.

Karin plays at Shibuya Plug, April 14; Aoyama Tsukimiru-Kimi-Omou, April 16. Her Web site is at www.karin-bright.com

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