Final Fantasy Song Book Mahoroba :: Review by Sitorimon
Final Fantasy Song Book "Mahoroba" is a collection of songs arranged by Yuji Hasegawa and half of them have vocals sung in Japanese by Manami Kiyota. Taking various songs from different Final Fantasy games, they are arranged using traditional instrumentation.
A perfect example is the opening "The Place I'll Return To Someday" which is just a simple translation of the Final Fantasy IX track to studio recorded woodwind. It's very fragile but sets the tone of what's to come. "Summer Album -Eyes on Me Japanese Ver.-" is a rendition of the song originally sung by Faye Wong. This time in Japanese and in a folksy/jazz style, the song translates very well to a different genre. Manami's voice is not as strong as Faye's, but it's certainly not a failed attempt and I quite enjoy the fact we now have an alternative version. "Maybe, Goodbye" is a vocal version of the good old "Farm Boy" from Final Fantasy VII. The fact it doesn't stray far from the roots of the original definately helps retain the cute and chirpiness of the arrangement a beautiful lazy piece of folk. "Town", taken from Final Fantasy III, is even more laidback, ballad-like with some beautifully soft vocals.
"Fisherman's Horizon" is a beautiful rendition of the piece from Final Fantasy VIII. Using electric piano, woodwinds, and various guitars, it carefully plucks its way through a six minute epic that builds and evolves throughout. This arrangement made me appreciate the original again. "Walking in the Road, After the Rain" is a swinging folksy rendition of "Descendant of Shinobi" from Final Fantasy VII; it is a fabulous light-hearted piece that Kiyota's vocals are made for. Plus I'm sure we have a banjo playing! What more do you need? Strangely track seven is taken from Ten Plants, a concept album that had many of the top game music composers contributing music to. Not a Final Fantasy song no, but the acoustic guitar and piano led piece fits like a glove to this set of songs and the actual melody reminds of a few other Final Fantasy tracks rolled together. I'd like to hear if anyone else can hear them too.
The third and final instrumental is Final Fantasy IX's "Daguerreo"; a beauty acoustic guitar arrangment that could lullaby anyone off to sleep. "Evanescence", taken from Final Fantasy V's "My Home, Sweet Home", once again goes for the earthly instrument route. However the arrangment could not much more different in tone to its Dear Friends version if it tried. This is one of the highlights of the album as it builds and builds itself up to a huge crowd arm swaying climax; for the first time on the album, everything really stretches its legs properly. The album closes with "Revolving Light" from Final Fantasy IX's "Unfathomed Reminiscence", a piano and vocal piece that ends the album on a suitably low key note as the album is relatively low key throughout. Leave the final track to run though and you'll get a full traditional band reprise of the opening track which is superb.
After "Pray" and "Love Will Grow", I think people were expecting a third similar album to round off the classical orchestration beauty that was those albums. However this is something completely different; not better nor particularly worse. It's a different genre and deserves a mention for trying to be a bit more different. It's not as accessable as the other two Final Fantasy Vocal Albums but, if you enjoy your music buried at the earth's roots, I'd definately recommend this album for you.
Overall Score: 7/10