The Road?
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2011
I should begin by saying I am a huge Keiko Matsui fan. I have been looking forward to this release for a very long time and finally, after an almost 4 year wait, we have the new CD, The Road... In fact, I've been anticipating it so much that even though I pre-ordered the CD thru Amazon, I purchased the MP3 album this morning so I could spend the day listening to it waiting for the CD to arrive. It's been playing virtually non-stop for 12 hours, so I feel as though I've experienced it enough to write a solid review.

The more I listened to The Road... the more I realized there are two very defined parts to the album. In the past, it isn't unusual for back-to-back releases by Keiko to be very similar in style and theme. Deep Blue and The Ring / Sapphire and Dream Walk quickly come to mind as examples. The first four songs could easily have appeared on Moyo. They're similar in style and sound and almost feel as though they could have been recorded at the same time as the songs on Moyo. Not that that is a bad thing; not by a long shot. Moyo is a terrific album and the new songs (Secret Pond, Falcon's Wing's, Nguea Wonja, Bohemian Concerto) all stand up very well on their own. To me, Falcon's Wing is the standout of the four. It is easily the best song on the CD.

It's the final five songs (Embrace & Surrender, Awakening, Touching Peace, Affirmation, & The Road...) that we really get a glimpse of what has been going on in Keiko's life the past 4 years as she traveled down her "Road...". I think even the order of the songs offer us insight to her journey as she finds her way through her "hardship" (as she stated in the liner notes). I could be reading too much into it, but after multiple listens, the feeling, the beauty, the true heartfelt emotions come through her music and allow the listener to take the journey with her. It's where the album really shines and where I found a true emotional attachment to the music. As with previous albums, there are always hidden gems that don't get played on the radio, or played in concert, but are some of her most brilliant work (Rose in Morocco from Deep Blue and Marula from Moyo quickly come to mind) and The Road... is no exception. Touching Peace is one of those songs. The way Keiko delicately plays the piano along with the guitar backing is absolutely beautiful and will only get better the more I listen to it.

If you're new to Keiko Matsui's music, this is an excellent place to start. There are some fantastic songs on this album, if not some of the best of her career. Put in the CD, put on the headphones, close your eyes and take the journey down The Road... You will not be disappointed.

For those who are down for only buying individual songs: Falcon's Wing, Awakening & Touching Peace are my personal favorites.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2011
After nearly 4 years, Keiko Matsui finally releases a new album. This is her 2nd post-Kazu recording (& 22nd overall release in America). Like her previous album, "Moyo" this one also has a number of guest musicians. Some had appeared in her previous recordings like drummer Vinnie Colaiuta (Matsui's 2 MCA recordings in the late 1980s), guitarist Alberto de Almar ("The Ring"), & Cameroonian-born musican/vocialist Richard Bona ("Moyo". While others appearing in her songs for the 1st time. Unlike that album, however the horn players are present on just 3 tracks, as opposed to almost half the songs of "Moyo." Thus more room to hear Matsui's piano playing, which is what made me a fan of hers in the 1st place.

Starting with the opener, this album takes us on her musical road, which is, in the words of the great Duke Ellington "beyond category." Her classical roots are present in "Secret Pond" & "Falcon's Wing." "Bohemian Concerto" while not really a concerto pre se is a wonder to the ears. Here Matsui is playing with the present of strings, guitar & accordion as accompaniment (the song is named after a historical region in the Czech Republic).

The African favor that was in "Moyo" is also present here with "Nguea Wonja" (which translates to "take pride in the road you are traveling on your journey"). Co-written by Bona, this track reminds me of West Africa's highlife music, very upbeat & happy. "Embrace & Surrender." on the other hand is more of a straight-ahead jazz ballad with a touch of the blues while "Touching Peace" is a very laid-back song. A chance for Matsui to show off her new age side.

The 3 tracks with a horn player present are also well done. Saxophonist Kirk Whalum makes his debut in a Keiko Matsui song, playing in "Awakening" & the blues driven "Affirmation." While Jackiem Joyner, her current saxophonist (who has released several solo albums) plays soprano sax in the title track & closer, which starts out slowly, then musically gets more intense as the tune progressives before ending quietly.

All told, this is yet another great album from Matsui, although I was a bit disappointed with the numbers of songs present here. This is her 1st studio album in 20 years with less than 10 tracks. I'm been so used to her 10+ track releases that this was a bit of a shocker. Also looking at the photo on the cover of the digipak, I wondered 'what she was thinking getting that hairdo'. It may like fine on Hiromi, another Japanese jazz pianist, but not on her (thought she still has the looks as she gets ready to hit 50). Still, this is a wonderful recording that should please her fans longing for a new release.

That said, please don't do a Sade on us & start releasing new material every 10 years!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2011
I have been waiting for the real Keiko to come out from behind the layers of over-production that have hidden her genius up to now. The Road is all I had hoped for. She is passionate and assured, front and center, and plays only acoustic piano. Her mastery of the superior expressive power of the piano is so impressive that I hope she never lets her fingers touch another electronic keyboard. The first thirty minutes of the album pay for all, while the rest is for those who miss her traditional sound. Even the cover photo is special: she looks like a real adult woman, not some precious Japanese doll. This is where to start if you haven't met Keiko-sama, and a not-to-miss for her fans.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2011
Just downloaded and listened to this first new release in 4 years from Keiko, and this review is pretty much what you would expect regarding this always-consistent artist: Keiko's in excellent form on her keyboards, as always. The arrangements are mostly strong, although I found some of the attempts in 2 or 3 of the songs to branch out beyond her comfort zone to be a little forced...not horribly so by any means, I just prefer her "usual" arrangements, is all...YMMV.

I also was tempted to (but did not) dock this album a star just to ask "What the heck were the stylists thinking on that cover photo?"...she looks ridiculous in that photo for a now 40+ year old woman.

Still, this is a nice long-awaited new release, and certainly recommended for fans of her past work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2011
I have some earlier cd's of hers, and it was nice to hear how she has grown. Her music is calming and relaxing and it's also good road music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2011
This a great CD. I am a big fan and I was not disappointed. Love it, I play it all the time in my car especially coming home from work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2011
The Road did not disappoint me at all because I love Keiko's music. I probably play this CD about 3 times a day at work. The song selections are soothing to listen to and the rhythm of the songs relaxes me. This CD was well worth the wait.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2011
Excellent, I personally received this cd from Keiko on Saturday night after her show at the Blue's Alley in D.C. and could not wait to pop it in and take a listen on the way back to the hotel. I have been listening to the cd for the past couple of days and cannot seem to turn it off. The cd reminds me of the concert, no holding back and just pure musical enjoyment. There's not much more that can be said. Don't hesitate to pick up this cd, it will definitely not disappoint you. Keiko, thank you for a wonderful concert, your wonderful spirit and for sharing your musical talents with the world.
Carlton and Terry Mitchell...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2011
This young lady can really play I sure did enjoy her CD
this is the first time I have heard her music and I love it. Keep up the good work Keiko I will be buying more of your music.
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on February 20, 2011
I have been a fan of Keiko Matsui's for many years I really enjoy her new album. Secret Pond is one of my favorite songs on the album, also Falcon's Wings which has that African flavor from Moyo. I especially enjoy Bohemian Concerto it is such a fun track to listen to, playful, very strong material makes you want to get up and dance great composition. I was looking forward to this new album release and am very glad it is here now. I highly recommend this album to everyone, it really grows on you.
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