Review | Shunichi Toki “Good For”

Shunichi Toki goes all out, delivering a perfect collection of throwback tunes in what is a highlight reel of an album with “Good For”.

Regular
Title: Good For
Release date: 18/05/2022
Label: PONY CANYON
Genre: Funk/Jazz/Ballad/Ska/Citypop

Tracklist:

1 - Nonfictional
2 - Good For
3 - 約束のOverture(Rearranged version)
4 - 半端なDistance
5 - Original scenery
6 - ワスレモノ
7 - Time with You
8 - all well and good
9 - 真心に奏(Rearranged version)
10 - Home
11 - 僕らには有ったよなぁ
12 - きっと、もっと

Track by track analysis:

1 – Nonfictional

Shunichi Toki kicks off this album with “Nonfictional”, song that welcomes the listener in a soft way with a muffled jazzy piano melody.

But what awaits you is much more than that. The curtains open for the verses and you are taken to an empty jazz bar, in what seems to be a laidback moment on stage. The performance has a certain carefree element.

Jazz’s unpredictability takes over with ¾ drums, blues-inspired guitar work, a punchy bassline – that doesn’t need to be a contrabass to leave an impact – and piano that is majestic throughout.

The verses fly by and the chorus is just as brief, taking the listener through an energetic yet cool auditory experience. 

The second verse introduces one of the most pleasing drum parts in this album with the warm floor toms shining.

The song includes an improvised bridge with all instruments teasing a solo while they actually leave that for the piano that goes for a beautiful run. Smoothly linking itself to the last chorus is a bouncy drum fill.

On the vocal end, it is quite interesting to find Toki using a lot of legato with crescendos, giving his performance an R&B-meets-jazz flair that perfectly suits his voice.

The perfect introduction for this album.

2 – Good For

Funk takes over in “Good For”, bringing playful brass, wah-wah guitar riffs, and rhodes piano melodies on top of a groovy bassline and warm, snare-driven drums.

The energy levels are high, following the punchy bassline and drums, something that will easily make you want to dance along to this track.

Smoothly, the verses morph into a colorful chorus that is all about its laidback vibe and good vibes.

Listeners can expect a fancy bridge section with the drums creating the perfect stage for the electrifying guitar solo waiting for you. Things quiet down for the build-up to the last chorus and outro, with funky guitar riffs and the bassline taking over yet again.

Although a small detail, I love how the rhodes piano takes the lead in the outro, creating the perfect fade out for the next track.

Shunichi Toki is in his element for his performance, charismatically taking the lead, and delivering a steady performance with some high notes in the mix. However, the big focus for this performance was on the emotions, making the song as laidback as possible while having a mature undertone, something I believe Toki was able to achieve.

3 – 約束のOverture(Rearranged version)

[As previously reviewed, updated for rearranged version

“Yakusoku no Overture” got an interesting treatment in this rearrangement. Dreamy synths and a steady bassy beat are the big changes that will stand out to you – if you don’t dive deep into the comparison of both tracks.

But there are other “quality of life” elements added to this track. The intermission Spanish guitar melodies are a nice touch, adding another passionate element to this performance.

Cellos, timbales, and bongos are no longer in this song, something that with the addition of the synths makes it sound like this song was created in the late 80s, and early 90s.

Somehow this rearrangement gives off strong summer vibes whereas the original had a twinge of a cheesy vibe that didn’t really put a good light over Shunichi Toki as a solo artist.

The cello solo was completely replaced by a mix of acoustic guitar and piano solos, bringing a unique dynamic to this song, a mix of elegance and gentleness.

On the vocal end, nothing really changed. The rearrangement was exclusive to the instrumental.

Shunichi Toki does not disappoint, however, this song is not that challenging for his register – as many of his fans might already know, his range is rather wide and his technique is incredibly solid -, this song went more on a playful route, leaving technicality behind in favor of a fun, simple performance. 

Terrific rearrangement, giving a new life to a song that deserved to be – originally – this good.

4 – 半端なDistance

And we carry over from the good vibes in “Yakusoku no Overture” to the laidback, mature vibes of the groovy “Hanpa na Distance”.

The verses are simple and elegant, with guitars bringing a bit of funk to the spotlight, drums are rather quiet while the rhodes piano and brass will make you vibe to this track.

In this laidback, comfortable mid-tempo, listeners will find themselves in the chorus, not even noticing the smooth transition between both.

I love the chorus to bits due to how classy it carries itself. It is simple, not bringing many – or any – new things into it. 

But the whole vibe, the soundscape itself that is quiet, intimate, and fun, all at the same time, makes it so that, alongside the punchy bassline, perky brass melodies, funky guitar riffs, and warm drums, you won’t want the song to end. 

The build-up to the bridge is something that left me with my mouth ajar. The drums work is crazy in that section, only quieting down in favor of a rhodes piano-led section in which Shunichi Toki’s falsetto, crescendos, and legato shine.

If you’re like me, you’ll find yourself anticipating those crescendo and legato sections, feeling those every time they happen. Toki’s voice and technique make it so that those sections are insanely pleasing to listen to.

To listen to it again and again.

5 – Original scenery

The tone changes for “Original scenery”, song that takes the listener back to the glorious and simple 90s.

The rhodes piano this time around serves as the instrument in charge of the mature tone in this track. On top of it are slow-paced funky guitar riffs, 90s synth and brass stabs, and a punchy bassline.

However what you wouldn’t expect to find in this song was a mix of a keytar with a talk box on the guitar, with that going on in the background for the most part of the song before taking over in the outro. 

The keytar barely gets any use nowadays but what impressed me the most was finding the talk box on the guitar, something that was insanely common in the 70s and 80s (rock, disco, and funk were really keen on it). 

In the chorus, it is almost impossible to not jam along to the punch bassline and addictive synthesized bassy beat. 

On the vocal end, “Original scenery” brings a couple of surprises to the table. The verses and chorus are all led by clean, groovy singing with a breathy twist however in the bridge, things go slightly darker for a moment. In that section Toki goes off and brings in low-toned rap, adding an unexpected charm to this performance.

As it is, “Original scenery” is the best song on this album. Perfect 90s throwback tune with a touch of hip-hop on top.

6 – ワスレモノ

Wasuremono” changes the tone in this album, bringing a delicate piano melody to the forefront as Shunichi Toki passionately leads the way.

This stripped sound makes an instant impact however it doesn’t stay for longer than one verse. The chorus is simple, leaving the output of emotions for Toki’s performance.

The second verse welcomes slow-paced drums, an acoustic guitar, and a subtle bassline into the mix, painting a beautiful and gentle soundscape.

When the bridge arrives, the acoustic guitar goes for a brief solo, with the drums picking up the pace and increasing their intensity as the piano slowly and carefully lays the stones for Toki to walk on top of.

As far as the performance goes, Toki brings the big guns, going for those crystal clear high notes, and warm mid-tones in what is an emotional – yet surprisingly contained – performance.

7 – Time with You

[As previously reviewed]

The instrumental in “Time with you” is driven by a 4-piece band. The guitars are simple, the bass line is soft, the piano melodies are melancholic and the drums are enjoyable in their mid-tempo style.

Vocally, this is the song that puts to test Toki’s range, experience, and skills as a singer.

He holds his own with his mid-range vocals throughout most of the song but whenever there is a need, his vocals come out of nowhere to catch the listener by surprise with his ethereal falsetto and gentle delivery. However, as good as the vocals are, as the song progresses it seems that the song is going nowhere.

The song never fully realizes itself, it is not an all-out ballad nor an all-out rock song. It’s in the middle and lacks a defining element or something to make it stand out even in its hybrid state.

After a sequence of crafty, unique songs, the fact that a textbook pop-rock song made its way into this release makes it seem out of place.

8 – all well and good

[As previously reviewed]

all well and good” is a song that brings forward a summer-inspired funky sound that you’ll want to bask in.

The tone is loungy, and the instrumental is elegant at all times, nodding to 80s citypop but giving it a modern twist.

The verses bring wah-wah guitars to the spotlight while keeping things simple, with a simple beat and bassline leading the way.

As awesome as the instrumental is, your focus should be on Shunichi Toki’s fancy performance instead, believe me. He went for a charismatic performance that capitalizes on his technique and consistency, with both his pitch vocals and main vocal track being a delight to listen to.

You will find a rhodes piano solo on top of a simple, high-pitched synth melody. This was unexpected but such a nice touch to this song.

I love the mapping for the drums in this song. It’s almost like you are on drums, playing for Shunichi Toki, watching smiling on stage for this groovy performance.

So, if you’re listening to this song with ear/headphones, you’ll be in for a treat because the sound mapping for this track is really awesome.

9 – 真心に奏(Rearranged version)

[As previously reviewed, updated for rearranged version

The once funky tune gets a laidback, indie-rock arrangement that focuses more on its good vibes – with the piano taking over those duties – while putting aside all the funky elements the original version had.

“Magokoro ni Kanade” retains its punchy bassline, something that, despite initially sounding well in the background in the mix, ends up taking the lead when things quiet down in the verses.

The strings section is also back, being part of the song’s identity and fitting well with this new arrangement.

Something I didn’t like in the original was fixed in this arrangement with the balance between strings and piano is perfect this time around, leaving the heavy lifting for the acoustic guitars.

As a result, the song has a feel-good tone that is consistent with the whole song, putting a smile on your face almost making you want to gleefully skip on the street. This arrangement did really well in enhancing those happy, warm feelings, making those more obvious to the listener.

Throughout the song, Toki spreads good vibes, delivering his performance with a mix of warm mid-tones, technical falsetto, and a pinch of vibrato on top.

10 – Home

Welcome to citypop paradise with “Home”, song that will instantly take you to a late summer, laidback evening soundscape.

A slow-tempo beat takes the lead, adding a considerable bounce to this track while a punchy bassline adds depth to the instrumental. 

Bringing in those summery vibes is the funky guitar, bringing in melancholic licks, fancy riffs, overall spreading its charms in order to take the listener to a dreamy soundscape.

A shaker and acoustic guitar join in the chorus, with the rhodes piano shining in the background, enhancing those nostalgic, dreamy vibes that were present in the verses. 

Cranking up those emotions is Shunichi Toki, screaming from his heart in the chorus yet being incredibly gentle, treating the listener with a lot of care in the verses.

Feel-good performance in a nostalgic song embracing a catchy and funky citypop sound.

11 – 僕らには有ったよなぁ

[As previously reviewed

Bokura ni wa atta yo na” strays a bit away from the previous one, embracing a Pop meets R&B ballad sound. 

Delicate piano melodies, inspiring strings, a sweet bass line, simple bass-driven drums, and laidback guitar riffs make this song the definition of “feel good”. Its relaxing, warm vibe is welcoming, grabbing the listener’s attention.

On the vocal end, Toki delivers a performance filled with emotion, breathing life into the melancholic lyrics found in this song. It is, once again, a safe performance, not risking much from the get-go and simply showing that sometimes, simple is a good formula. 

Those fans of a slower tempo, and sweet songs will certainly enjoy this performance however those expecting Toki to pull some of his tricks and showcase his range will be a bit disappointed as he played it safe from start to finish. Solid performance.

12 – きっと、もっと

Wrapping up this album is “Kitto, Motto”, song that takes the listener through a groovy soundscape with ska influences. 

Expect the beat to play tricks on you, going for offbeat jumpy rhythms while a jazz horn section takes over. Rimshots are also a thing throughout the performance, adding a different twist to the percussion.

Everything about this song could have been intense, however, I found the horns and synths to be incredibly loud in the chorus, something that drowns Shunichi Toki’s vocals. 

Other than that, the song is fairly simple, the message uplifting and Toki’s performance has a cool twist that is not common to find in ska music.


Final considerations

Shunichi Toki has been incredibly entertaining to listen to as a solo artist. “Good For” is such a strong 1st album, giving listeners a glimpse into his passions while delivering some of the grooviest tracks out there.

Consistency is key in making this album shine, with listeners finding themselves in the middle of funky goodness that is common to jazz, 90s pop, hip-hop, ballads and R&B tunes. Toki managed to always have a bounce to his songs while focusing on bringing a lot of emotion from his performances more so than from the instrumentals.

Listeners will also find a consistency in the tone of this album. Mature, elegant at all times while paying a respectful homage to the awesome sounds from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. Acoustic tunes are common – or, at least, it is common to find acoustic guitars in this album -something that is a first for Toki.

“Nonfictional” is a gem of a track, the perfect introduction to this album, setting a glamorous tone for what is, indeed, an album filled with maturity and elegance in all its 12 tracks.

Good for”, “Original scenery” and “Home” are responsible for the explosion of color in this album, bringing in jazz, 90s pop/hip-hop and citypop to the spotlight in what is a perfect set of groovy tunes. 

Really, if you do have good headphones or monitors in your sound system, make sure to crank up the volume a bit and you’ll notice that bounce all over your body.

“Original scenery” didn’t spare anything by bringing an original early 90s pop sound all with the synth and brass stabs, and the talk box that was really big among rappers in that era. Emotional guitar riffs, brass and synth stabs, talk box and even some keytar on top of a punchy beat and bassline and… well, this is really the best song in this album, hands down. I dare even say one of those songs I’ll be talking about on year-end best songs list features.

Yakusoku no Overture” got a well deserved rearrangement, bringing the song to a place in which it no longer sounds as generic and cheesy as it did. The Spanish flavor is still felt on those acoustic guitars but there is less Latin percussion in there, something that, alongside the new synths, made the song sound like it was from the 90s.

Magokoro ni Kanade” got a rearrangement as well however I feel like it was more to fit within the album more so than on really upgrading the song. Aside from the messy chorus that the original one had – which was fixed with this arrangement -, the song didn’t improve as much as it needed to. Still a fun song, but flawed.

“Wasuremono” serves as an emotional intermission to this album as well as a perfect showcase of Toki’s technique – and a glimpse to his range.

I was expecting the song would remain stripped down until the end, with just Toki’s vocals and the piano but alas, there are other elements joining in the song. While those don’t make the song sound bad – on the contrary -, I expected the song’s direction to be more towards showcasing more of Toki’s range than what we got. Why do I say this? 

Toki is the type of singer that doesn’t need music to sound good so I believe “Wasuremono” would leave a bigger mark if Toki had been left to his own devices in a crystal clear, beautiful soundscape. This is, of course, personal preference and in nothing affected my assessment of the quality of this track.

Ska makes an appearance just as you and I are bidding our goodbyes to Shunichi Toki, thanking for the good time, groovy vibes and awesome throwback sound. While it was a cool idea, I feel like mastering-wise, this song would have worked best in the middle of the album rather than in its end, completely disrupting its flow. “Kitto, Motto” arrives as an anti-climatic ending tune that has a rather crowded – and weirdly mixed – chorus.

All in all, Shunichi Toki shows a lot of growth and maturity as a solo artist delivering a consistent album with “Good for”. He paid the perfect – and respectful – homage to 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s music, taking the listener through a memorable sonic experience. And if you’re like me, someone born in the early 90s, this album will sound strangely nostalgic due to how perfectly the sounds from that era were captured.

Near flawless album for Shunichi Toki, a strong candidate for album of the year and source of plenty of punchy summer-inspired tunes for all our playlists.


“Good For” is not available for purchase at CDJAPAN. You can find the regular and limited editions available on Amazon Japan (ships internationally).


Good For” is available for streaming on Spotify.


Do not support piracy. Remember to support Shunichi Toki 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

Nonfictional
Good For
約束のOverture(Rearranged version)
半端なDistance
Original scenery
ワスレモノ
Time with You
all well and good
真心に奏(Rearranged version)
Home
僕らには有ったよなぁ
きっと、もっと

SUMMARY

Shunichi Toki went for a perfect homage to the sounds of the 70s, 80s, and 90s in the groovy 1st album "Good For". Listeners can expect a really consistent album with plenty of Jazz and funk leading the way - or used as undertones - for all songs. From the majestic, classy sound in "Nonfictional" to the throwback 90s hip-hop sound in "Original Scenery" or the neon-lit soundscape in "Home", Toki impresses with laidback, warm, and punchy soundscapes. When it comes to the performances, his consistency and technique show countless times. Shunichi Toki shows a lot of growth and maturity as a solo artist delivering a consistent album with “Good for”. He paid the perfect - and respectful - homage to 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s music, taking the listener through a memorable sonic experience. Near flawless album for Shunichi Toki, a strong candidate for album of the year.

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Shunichi Toki went for a perfect homage to the sounds of the 70s, 80s, and 90s in the groovy 1st album "Good For". Listeners can expect a really consistent album with plenty of Jazz and funk leading the way - or used as undertones - for all songs. From the majestic, classy sound in "Nonfictional" to the throwback 90s hip-hop sound in "Original Scenery" or the neon-lit soundscape in "Home", Toki impresses with laidback, warm, and punchy soundscapes. When it comes to the performances, his consistency and technique show countless times. Shunichi Toki shows a lot of growth and maturity as a solo artist delivering a consistent album with “Good for”. He paid the perfect - and respectful - homage to 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s music, taking the listener through a memorable sonic experience. Near flawless album for Shunichi Toki, a strong candidate for album of the year.Review | Shunichi Toki "Good For"