This may be the first time I’m writing about Tomohisa Yamashita on The Bias List, but don’t let that undermine my regard for him as a performer. Debuting as a member of boy group News, Yamashita released his first solo work in 2006 and eventually left News in 2011 to fully pursue solo activities. He’s a huge name in Japan as a performer, actor and all-around TV personality, and has become more prolific as a musician following a lull in the mid-2010’s. Though not as rhythmic or upbeat as much of his recent work, Nights Cold is a great showcase for his charms.
I’ve always liked Yamashita’s voice. It’s not the strongest tone you’ll ever hear, but it’s expressive, textured and unique. Nights Cold isn’t quite a ballad, but its pensive atmosphere and lumbering tempo offers him a chance to bring a more nuanced approach to his performance. The track is gorgeously produced, driven by footfalls of percussion, spikes of violin and some wonderfully placed backing vocals that lend the song a bit of theatricality. Nights Cold is split evenly between English and Japanese lyrics. As his first release to be offered on digital platforms worldwide, I wonder if this approach is aiming for crossover appeal.
Whatever the language, the song’s sentiment hits hard. Nights Colds’ arrangement delivers moments of satisfying build. The breathy climb into falsetto during the first pre-chorus is my favorite, and an immensely appealing melodic turn. There’s a fluidity to the song’s structure that warrants replays and keeps it from feeling too generic. It’s a great counterpoint to this summer’s more explosive tracks.
Be sure to add your own rating by participating in the poll below!