“This Is The One” is the third US album of Utada succeeding Precious and Exodus which were released in the early 2000s in the USA. “This Is The One” is somehow Americanised with tracks penned to suit the American music audience. Utada has worked mainly with Norwegian producers, “Stargate” who were famous for collaborating with big R&B artists such as Beyonce, Ne-Yo, Jennifer Hudson and more. Utada also worked with Christopher “Tricky” Stewart, American producer who has co-penned the massive hit “Umbrella” by Rihanna back in 2007. The fusion of Utada and the music producers resulted in a very Americanised album with tracks that tell about Breakups, getting dirty in a club, and more ranting about everything under the sun.
The opener, “Come Back To Me” is a stunner. A classic R&B song which features Utada’s ethereal falsettos and admirable phrasing and honestly, she presents it with grace and style avoiding too much of her foreign accent.
Utada also presents a different side of her which is absolutely contrary to the image she has established over the past 10 years of her career. With “Dirty Desire”, her playful thoughts effervescently surrounded the whole track with ambiguous lyrics such as “Doing my Nine to fives, I’m thinking of 6 and nines”. This connotes the album’s sexual motive as well as being naughty with “Poppin’” which is quite really anathematic for some reason.
Slow semi-ballads are also overflowing in the album. “Apple and Cinnamon” is a trademark Stargate-ish beat to it. It is one of the better tracks in the album that lets Utada shine with her magical falsettos and beautiful arrangements. It’s sweet, yet refreshing and absolutely presents Utada better than the other provocative songs such as “Dirty Desire” and “Poppin’”. A melancholic song which shows a strong emotion of Utada is “This One (Crying Like A Child)”. The rhyming of the lines are impeccable with a very tear-jerking attitude, she delivers the chorus “How could I ever love another, How could you say you don’t remember?”. It’s classy enough to portray her previous broken marriage in 2007- does it really?.
Other tracks are quite as impressive you’d thought they were. “Merry Christmas, Mr.Lawrence-FYI”, “On and On”, “Taking My Money Back” and the Spanish infused “Me Muero”. Utada’s ethnicity has given the album a different feel to what we would expect on a classic R&B album. Her semi-accentuated vocals are complementing to the entire feel of the album.
In totality, the album is absolutely commendable from start to finish. Although she may sound a bit too trying hard, Utada presents herself and the album with aplomb. Although there’s not much variety offered, it’s still re-listenable from start to finish. Utada’s efforts are absolutely worth of recognition. And hopefully with this, She can break the racial barriers in providing good music for the world audience to listen to. As we all know, there are hardly Asian artists dominating the world charts except in Asia ain’t it?
RELEASED: March 24, 2009 (Digital US), May 12, 2009 (Physical US)
STAND-OUT TRACKS: “Apple and Cinnamon”, “Come Back To Me”, “This One (Crying Like A Child)”