Kayoko Yoshizawa has approached songwriting as a process somewhat akin to writing a storybook since her 2013 mini-album, Majo Zukan, building her elaborate pop songs around the narratives of various fictional protagonists. But while her previous full-length, Yaneura Ju, heavily indulged in the world of make-believe — both through its string-laden sound and fantasy-derived details — the singer-songwriter’s Jyoyuu Shimai grounds the music closer to reality. Yoshizawa still spins dreamy pop songs rich in sound and lyrical detail, though her subjects are inspired by rather ordinary people, in comparison to the imaginary beast in the attic that spawned the title of her last album. “Getsuyobi Senso” (‘Monday Wars’) is a cheery theme song that transforms 9-to-5 office ladies into weekday warriors. “Muse” is another shining anthem for the common people that aims broader, highlighting human perseverance as an act of magic. Yoshizawa’s admiration for the strength she finds in everyday women comes out through the music, as the singer-songwriter aspires to capture the many different identities of one woman throughout Jyoyuu Shimai. The album’s poignant moments, however, confront the limits of understanding an individual in her entirety; Yoshizawa tries her best in “Jyoyuu” (‘Actress’) to console another who masks her pain, and the climactic “Nokkoteru” (‘It Remains’) struggles to let go of a precious memory attached to a specific person. The best Yoshizawa can offer is a kind of snapshot in the form of pop — but on Jyoyuu Shimai, this is quite an image, capturing her favorite qualities with love and care.
Published as part of Foreign Correspondent | Issue 2.