Yuji Oniki
Tvi CD - Future Farmer

This San Francisco singer-songwriter fashions a Twenty-first century version of Seventies soft rock, despite comparisons to more modern musicians. Some might wonder why anyone should take notice of an album released in late 2001, but this is a case of an under-appreciated and mostly unknown artist who has meticulously crafted thirteen quality tunes of sophisticated pop a cut above the norm. ¶ Tvi is a down-to-earth performance centered on physical travel as well as the journey from childhood to adulthood. Oniki balances his breathy, gossamer voice with melodic piano and spare guitar, smooth arrangements that include strings and horns, and his reflective but sanguine lyrics. Oniki is a convincing pop balladeer that creates familiar tones with distinct charms. The transportation ode “Rails In Vain” (about a train ride from Paris to Amsterdam) recalls 10cc’s subtle complexity. The pristine production on the diffident drama “One Bright Summer Day” (concerning old dreams that fade back in as we nap) brings to mind an indie rock interpretation of Bread. The infectious radio-friendly “Transport” (chronicling youthful curiosity) is a fine example of Oniki’s ability to formulate shimmering music that would have been all over the airwaves in a different era. ¶ The pieces are unusually well produced with assistance from friends such as Beulah’s Bill Swan (who adds trumpet), some savory guitar by Guided By Voices’ Doug Gillard and even delicate contributions from violinist Katsui of Japanese experimental band Rovo. If anything, Oniki’s relaxed vocals are the only issue. For the most part the tasteful compositions compliment Oniki’s comforting singing but after forty-five minutes Oniki’s modesty can be somewhat drowsy. ¶ Tvi isn’t a pop masterpiece, yet it deserves to be heard and will appeal to fans of the lighter side of the Elephant 6 collective or twee pop listeners who want to discover someone who justifies more attention. (Doug Simpson)



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