After a stint in Los Angeles and before returning to her native Tokyo, May Okita recorded this refreshingly lightweight album with musical collaborators Larry Koonse on guitar and Josh Nelson on piano. There’s an uplifting, simplistic quality to this set, which is mostly jazz standard fare but also contains one of Okita’s own compositions.
Okita’s vocal has a pleasant quality, coming across as slightly ephemeral; she lightly touches the surface of notes rather than delving more deeply into them. This is more an album of feeling, of style, than anything ground-breaking.
Okita’s petite vocal works best on straight ballads like Both Sides Now. She also gives a rather poignant reading of Randy Newman’s song for abandoned toys from Toy Story 2, When She Loved Me. Smile is another example of a ballad sung with tender sensitivity by Okita.
This is a quiet album, with no fireworks or bombast, but certainly glimmers of sincerity that are all the more appealing in their understatement.
Let’s Face the Music and Dance; Both Sides Now; Detour Ahead; Art of Life; Blue Rose; When She Loved Me; Some Other Time; Smile; What a Difference a Day Made; Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye (45.00)
Okita (v); Josh Nelson (p); Larry Koonse (g). Los Angeles, CA, May 2018.