Yaida Hitomi arrives at a time when the world just really doesn’t need another LilithFairMarketedWomanInRock. But the world always needs good songwriters, and Yaida fits that bill quite nicely.
A good number of tracks on Yaida’s debut album, daiya-monde (a play on the word “diamond,” which is part of the name of her band Diamond Head, and her name spelled backwards), will draw obvious comparrisons to artists not only in Japan but worldwide.
“Girl’s Talk” uses the kind of overproduction in which Shiina Ringo often indulges. “Your Kiss” sounds like something between Lisa Loeb’s “Stay” and Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic.” And “Moshimo no Uta,” a light-hearted drinking song that bears no resemblance to anything else on the album, marks the kind of left turn Cocco uses with her children’s songs.
But the rest of daiya-monde sports the kind of earnest rock that, in less skilled hands, would come across as bleeding heart at best, crass at the worst. Instead, Yaida has crafted a number of suitable hooks around her powerful voice.
It’s not difficult to fall head over clichéd heels for such keepers as “How?”, “Nothing” or the album’s emotional pinnacle, “Nee.” (It was an excerpt for the video of “Nee” that drew my attention to Yaida in the first place.)
Yaida veers manically from high-speed exuberance (“B’coz I Love You”, “My Sweet Darlin'”) to mid-tempo introspection (“Nee”, “Your Kiss”). She’s created a set of songs that puts her in league with other indepedently-minded Japanese woman but at the same time sets her apart.
Yaida would never be mistaken for Japan’s answer to Courtney Love, as E! Online once described Shiina Ringo, or Japanese Fiona Apple, as the New York Times once described Cocco. If those nasty, pigeon-hole-ing comparrisons had to be used, Yaida resembles Joan Osborne or Meredith Brooks without a hint of being a one-hit wonder.
daiya-monde is a stellar debut from a singer with the potential for staying power.