A little more, again, please?

Let’s get one thing clear: Chara has an amazing voice.

Her fragile, child-like whisper is off-putting on first introduction, but eventually, the expressiveness and range of that voice feels comfortable, familiar even.

Too bad her most recent albums have been really boring.

The last time out with Madrigal, Chara delivered a very non-descript performance in which her band nearly drowned her out for most of the album. A mix of incongruent material didn’t help either.

Yoake Mae addresses most of those problems, keeping mostly mellow throughout, and allowing enough room for Chara to take over. But is it enough to make it worth a listener’s while?

On the first half of the album, she really makes her presence known. “Beautiful Day” doesn’t attempt to hide its “Perfect Day” lineage, and Chara sounds great posing as a modern day Lou Reed. “Mieru wa” possesses a subtle charm that lingers long after.

“sweety” demonstrates Chara’s under-utlizied ability to get dramatic without using too much volume, and on “Hatsu Koi”, she lets her roar come out.

Chara manages to hold onto the momentum of Yoake Mae as the tracks progress, but right around the half way mark — specifically, “Hello” — the momentum deflates.

“Hello” is the most drawn-out, meandering song on the album, and after that, Chara sounds too bored to put up the effort. If anything, “Heart no Hi wo Tsukete” led into “Hello”‘s deflation by allowing Chara too much room to whisper.

The next two tracks somehow manage to erase the memory that Yoake Mae even had movement.

The sparse “Beautiful Scarlet” does shine a very soft but intimate spotline on Chara’s voice, and “I wanna freely love you” makes a vailiant effort to recover some of that motion.

But by the end, the same problem which hindered Madrigal makes itself apparant on Yoake Mae — these songs just aren’t memorable enough for Chara’s unique perforamnce to make a dent.

Sort of like a line from Haruki Murakami’s Hear the Wind Sing: ” … the dreams of her seventy-nine years dispersed like a summer shower on a shopping street, leaving not a thing behind.”

Unfortunately, that just about describes the effect of listening to Yoake Mae — you don’t remember you just had.