Review | Gakuto Kajiwara “Dokoka no kimi ni”

Acoustic guitar in hand and with a lot of love to give, Gakuto Kajiwara’s “Dokoka no Kimi Ni” is a beautiful mini-album.

Gakuto Kajiwara "Dokoka no kimi ni"
Regular
Title: 何処かの君に 
Release date: 20/10/2021
Label: AVEX 
Genre: Rock / Acoustic Pop-Rock

Tracklist:

1 - Funny Bunny
2 - 魔法が解けたら
3 - ジャスミン
4 - I remember you
5 - 君ドロップス
6 - 君と恋をしたいんです。
7 - 紫陽花 (Studio session version)

Track by track analysis:

1 – Funny Bunny

Slow-paced Smart drums take the lead in the adventurous “Funny Bunny“. 

The instrumental is all about its laidback indie-rock sound with simple drums and guitar riffs – with country influences – all played in a comfortable mid-tempo.

A bright piano and punchy bassline join in for the verses, adding depth and a jolly vibe to this tune.

The chorus is quite simple as well and brief, leaving more space available for an intermission in which Gakuto Kajiwara goes for riffing and ad-libs.

When it comes to the vocals, Kajiwara brings his clear vocals and emotional range to this performance and make this track quite enjoyable to listen to.

2 – 魔法が解けたら

Melancholy takes over in “Mahou ga hodoketara”. 

Rimshots, acoustic guitar riffs, and an emotional bassline slowly trail their way through the song into the chorus. The semi-acoustic sound puts the spotlight on Kajiwara’s vocals and what a strong performance he delivers for this song.

The chorus is full of emotion with that melancholy going on in the verses completely pouring out thanks to the melodic guitar riffs. 

Do expect a tasteful guitar solo – an overdriven one – on the bridge section. It is a brief one but so much fun to listen to.

Gakuto Kajiwara taps a lot into his higher range, using those high notes to heighten the tension in the performance. Notice how he goes into head voice – really high – in the later stages of this song (bridge into the last chorus).

When Kajiwara goes for those notes, it’s goosebumps all over. He does those so clean and emotionally charged that… It is really beautiful to listen to.

3 – ジャスミン

Jasmine” kicks off with a perky piano melody yet with some nostalgia going on in it.

Slowly, joining this intimate performance are finger snaps, a bassline, and a bassy-driven beat.

Those take you by hand to the warm chorus in which you won’t help but feel love and care.

 The instrumental flourishes with the addition of strings, the piano brings more major chords to the mix and brass gives it an elegant finishing touch.

The song plays like a ballad however without going through the generic route. You have a saxophone joining in the instrumental – bringing a bit of jazz’s playful twist to it -, and the vocals are all about riffing and ad-libs not going for power belting but for a more grounded, jazzier style of performance.

The funky guitars join in midway through and you won’t even notice those. Only the time comes to wrap up this will the guitars make themselves known to you, closing this song in style alongside Kajiwara’s vocals.

For this song, Gakuto Kajiwara brings his best. High notes – in clean head voice -, legato, he does tonnes of riffing and ad-libbing (bringing a bit of R&B into this performance) and chains all of those smoothly for a performance that, by the time the bridge kicks in, you’ll be with your mouth ajar at how technical the song ended up becoming.

Top, top marks for this performance.

4 – I remember you

Acoustic guitars slowly take you back to the laid-back, intimate sound you had at the start of this mini-album.

Slowly and emotionally, “I remember you” puts a blanket over your shoulders, aiming to lullaby you with a sweet performance of a bittersweet performance.

The first verse and chorus are entirely acoustic; however, by the time the second verse kicks in, a cajon joins in to bring percussion into this song. On top of that careful rhythm are subdued strings and a minimalistic bassline.

Then, as you start getting closer to the chorus yet again, tension rises a bit, dynamics change a bit and the full focus goes to the vocals.

The clarity in Kajiwara’s vocals is his ally in this performance. In such an intimate setting, he manages to sound warm and gentle while having a strong presence that enables him to power through the chorus with a lot of emotion (without raising his voice once). This control and the quality of his voice are on full display in this performance that will have you wishing this song would never end.

5 – 君ドロップス

The tone changes a bit and we leave the intimate acoustic sound of the previous songs and yet again embrace a med-tempo indie rock sound.

Acoustic guitars still play a massive role in this song being responsible for the warm vibes you get throughout the song. 

You will find the guitars in solo on your right ear and the rhythm ones on your left, creating a tasteful use of the soundscape.

A piano melody makes its jolly way into the song leading the listener to the chorus. The piano is, in no way, a big presence in this song but when it appears it is always an accent to give life to the performance.

“Kimi Drops” counts with 2 fun guitar solos. One in the bridge and then another one later in the outro, scratching that itch for a good long guitar solo full of emotion.

The vocals are a bit more relaxed and less technical than on the other songs. This, however, doesn’t mean that the vocals are by any means sloppy. Kajiwara made sure the performance was gripping at all times, with a great amount of emotion going on.

6 – 君と恋をしたいんです。

A dreamy soundscape welcomes you to “Kimi to koi o shitaindesu.”, R&B meets rock performance that is all about love and nostalgia.

In a breathy, ample soundscape, Kajiwara stands in front of you as the drums play behind you, and the bassline, guitars, piano, and strings embellish the soundscape in front of you.

The chorus pushes Gakuto Kajiwara’s vocals to an interesting place. When you notice, Kajiwara is going for beautiful head voice notes mixed in his gentle mid-toned vocals.

Pizzicato strings change the tone of the second verse, adding even more nostalgia to the slow-paced, triplets-driven beat and sparse piano melody.

Expect a passionate – and technical – guitar solo as the strings paint the soundscape in love and regret.

Beautiful performance on top of a stellar composition.

7 – 紫陽花 (Studio session version)

Wrapping up this release is “Ajisai”, song that is really an awesome studio recording with the classic hiss from the guitar cables and all those plosives on the vocals of a track that is raw.

An acoustic guitar plays to your left, slowly accompanying Gakuto Kajiwara’s sweet vocals.

At the center of this performance is you. Percussion takes over slowly in the far back, giving a heartbeat to this performance as well as enhancing the emotions going on in Kajiwara’s vocals.

Slowly and surely, The song flows in a gentle tone and full focus on the emotions delivered by Kajiwara’s powerful vocals. 

The song has a tasteful harmonica solo alongside Kajiwara’s smooth riffing.

Expect him to give you a warm, emotional performance that will grip you to your seat.

As you sit there at the center of what feels like a campfire song that neatly wraps up a journey, you’re gently lullabied by Kajiwara’s vocals.

What an end to this journey!


Final considerations

Dokoka no Kimi ni” is all about its acoustic sound and that is where its charm is.

Listening to this mini-album feels like going on a trip with a close group of friends or even with a significant other. 

It is intimate, and warm, with some nostalgia in the mix and lots of love.

You start off this journey with an acoustic guitar in hand and, alongside Gakuto Kajiwara, you explore several songs about love, regret, nostalgia, and memories.

The tone is cozy and welcoming right from the start and stays like that until the end. The consistency in tone of the mini-album and its songs is quite fascinating.

You jump from song to song and every song has the perfect ending to connect with a perfect intro.

As far as the compositions go, there is an excellent use of the soundscape, populating it all around you to give you the sense of you being in the same place as Kajiwara. There are instruments around you, close to you and in front, at center stage is Kajiwara delivering gentle performances one after the other.

In a mini-album filled with great songs, the best performances are found in “Jasmine” and “Ajisai”. 

You have emotional range, control, consistency, and range at full display in those 2 songs. They aren’t overly technical but they are already rock-solid showcases of what Kajiwara’s vocals can do.

All in all, “Dokoka no Kimi ni” is a surprising entry in Kajiwara’s repertoire, fully embracing acoustic music while delivering some of the sweetest performances he has delivered as a solo artist.


Dokoka no kimi ni is unavailable for purchase at CDJAPAN.


[Disclaimer: Since Kajiwara signed with AVEX pictures, THTFHQ won’t publish links to CDJAPAN’s store (or any store) as all are abiding by the label’s request not to export any of AVEX pictures‘ artist releases. More info on Avex Pictures’ international sales embargo can be found–HERE]


“Dokoka no Kimi Ni” is available for streaming on Spotify.


Do not support piracy. Remember to support Gakuto Kajiwara’s solo career by streaming via official outlets.

Vanessa Silva
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder, content creator, and music reviewer. Basically, the only person managing everything at The Hand That Feeds HQ. Stumbling upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" in 2011 was the start of this journey. If music is thought-provoking or deep, you may find her writing almost essays (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). She's the producer and host of the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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REVIEW OVERVIEW

Funny Bunny
魔法が解けたら
ジャスミン
I remember you
君ドロップス
君と恋をしたいんです。
紫陽花 (Studio session version)

SUMMARY

"Dokoka no Kimi ni" is a surprising entry in Kajiwara's repertoire, fully embracing acoustic music while delivering some of the sweetest performances he has delivered as a solo artist. This is an incredibly consistent album in tone, sound, and performances, showing that Gakuto Kajiwara is an exciting talent among the newest generation of solo artists coming from the seiyuu industry. Acoustic guitar in hand and with a lot of love to give, Gakuto Kajiwara's "Dokoka no Kimi Ni" is a beautiful mini-album to listen to again and again (and absolutely perfect for a rainy day).

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"Dokoka no Kimi ni" is a surprising entry in Kajiwara's repertoire, fully embracing acoustic music while delivering some of the sweetest performances he has delivered as a solo artist. This is an incredibly consistent album in tone, sound, and performances, showing that Gakuto Kajiwara is an exciting talent among the newest generation of solo artists coming from the seiyuu industry. Acoustic guitar in hand and with a lot of love to give, Gakuto Kajiwara's "Dokoka no Kimi Ni" is a beautiful mini-album to listen to again and again (and absolutely perfect for a rainy day). Review | Gakuto Kajiwara "Dokoka no kimi ni"