Winner of a Parents' Choice GOLD award AND a 2002 NAPPA GOLD award, and nominated for "Best Asian" Music Award by Just Plain Folks!
Fall 2001 Audio
Ages: 1 to 99
Aiko Shimada (voice) and Elizabeth Falconer (koto) play old songs from Japan; lullabies and age-old favorites that have been used to soothe children and adults alike for centuries. Compellingly understated arrangements bring out the warmth of Shimada's voice and the ephemeral beauty of the 13-string koto. Works sung largely in Japanese, with some English lyrics artfully woven in, but no knowledge of Japanese is necessary to enjoy the beauty of these intimate, nurturing songs.
This exquisite album, a collaboration between singer Aiko Shimada and koto master Elizabeth Falconer, can carry listeners of any age to a place of quiet and enfolding peace. The sweet, expressive clarity of Falconer's artistry on the 13-string, traditional Japanese koto, and Shimada's tender vocals in Japanese and in English, combine to create lullaby music that evokes images of soft, falling rain, blossoms nodding in a gentle breeze, and dragonflies on the wing. Curl up with your child, close your eyes and let the drifting music, as Longfellow put it so eloquently, "quiet the restless pulse of care." - Parents' Choice
A mesmerizing, very relaxing compilation of songs sung in Japanese and English. Some interpret classic folk tunes, some are modern original ballads (a la Jewel or Tracy Chapman). All feature Ms. Shimada's spectacularly clear, pure, delicate voice, accompanied by the sonorous rainwater sounds of Ms. Falconer's koto. The harmonies are delightful and enchanting.
Even without knowing the lyrics (which can be accessed on their website), you'll be able to hum along with many of them, and the language exposure is wonderful for young minds! The CD is long enough that even an energetic little one will slow down by the end. My 18-month old was completely transfixed for the first 3 or 4 songs at least, and on subsequent days would hand me the case as a hint to play it, even at bathtime.
With songs about dragonflies, cherry blossoms, stars and the ocean, one's spirit feels charmed, lightened and youthful; and yet there is also a deep wisdom and connectedness to nature and culture in these traditional sounds that have probably soothed generations.
Lovely album, October 8, 2001
Reviewer: dv8or70 from Seattle, WA USA
Aiko Shimada's voice is like the sky on a clear blue day. Simply gorgeous. Elizabeth Falconer's koto playing is superb! Simple and never distracting. This album of traditional Japanese lullabies is amazing. I would recommend it to anyone who loves Japanese music. This one is not just for children and parents.
A review of the lullaby cd on AMG:
AMG EXPERT REVIEW: Albums aimed at children can go two ways ?Ea few are sublime, but the vast majority go for the lowest common denominator, talking down to the kids and just being generally stupid. Without a doubt, Oyasumi falls into the former category. Singer/songwriter Aiko Shimada (who's been making a name for herself as a writer and performer) offers shimmering vocals on music from her native Japan, while Elizabeth Falconer (an American who fell in love with Japan) is an inspired and accomplished counterpart on koto. The material's drawn from a number of sources, some traditional, some more contemporary (including a beautiful Japanese version of "Twinkle, Tinkle Little Star" that brings fresh life to a tired old standard), and some original, with "Aiko's Lullaby" a real standout. But, truth to tell, there's little to choose between any of the 16 tracks here, as the standard is so high throughout. The arrangements are flawless, with Falconer inspired and endlessly inventive on her instrument. Where Shimada contributes guitar, it's subtle and often unusual, but fits perfectly with the song, and her vocals, almost whispered at times, create a lushness when double-tracked, managing the interesting trick of being full and spare at the same time. For Falconer, an avowed Japanophile, it's a way of exploring her passion; for Shimada it's a way to reclaim her heritage. That the two Seattle residents come together so well is excellent. That they make lullabies which aren't just for children, but that can also please and soothe people of every age, is a sure sign of success. Chris Nickson