Naked and True is the second album released by former SPEED member, hiro. Five singles were released prior to the album, all peaking within the top 10 (four peaking within the top 5). The album was another success, peaking at #2 and selling over 230,000 copies.
Released: August 7, 2002
1. ME AND YOU (Riding Waves)
3. Notice my mind
4. Day After Day
5. Seaside Holiday & The Sun
6. Naked and True
8. Your innocence
9. For a Long Night
10. Eternal Place
11. love you
12. Namida (ナミダ)
13. Mitsumeteitai (DJ Hasebe remix PART-1) (見つめていたい; I Want to Gaze at You)
14. Shiawase no Michi (Album Version) (しあわせの道; Way of Happiness)
15. ON MY WAY
16. Hana ~Subete no Hito no Kokoro ni Hana o~ (花 ～すべての人の心に花を～; Flowers ~Flowers in the Hearts of Everyone~)
Compared to her first album’s opener, ME AND YOU (Riding Waves) is something very different and one of the album’s strongest songs. It has a more dance/jazz combination going on that helps sets it apart from the other songs. The song is completely in English, which is an interesting surprise, but hiro sounds great and her piercing vocals suit the song nicely. It’s catchy, dramatic and beautiful. The album’s second single, Confession, is a bright pop tune in line with Treasure from hiro’s last album. It’s not as dramatic, but the music and general vibe is very similar. I quite these kinds of songs and hiro’s voice lends itself well to this style. It’s a bit on the generic, but that catchy chorus really makes up for it. I do wish the chorus had more punch to it, but it’s still a solid tune. The album’s final single, Notice my mind, continues similarly to the last song, but definitely brings something more pop. I don’t think it is as strong as the last two song, but it is still a pretty catchy tune. The chorus is catchy and lighthearted, although I wish the music was more powerful. The transition is a bit weak and doesn’t quite match the shine of the melody. Another good tune. Day After Day is more dramatic and has some R&B elements in it, which is a nice change. I like that the music sounds fuller, although there are some weird synth choices that are in the song. The chorus is a bit more “pop” in its delivery and although I wish the transition was a bit smoother, I still quite like the melody. hiro also sounds really nice throughout this song. Seaside Holiday & The Sun is exactly what one would expect from the name, a bright, summery pop tune. I love that it is upbeat, but still has a relaxing feel to it. The chorus is very similar to a lot of the other singles on here, so I feel like it has a lot of potential to be an A-side. The only difference it really shares is the prominence of the guitar. It’s a strong album track. Naked and True, the title track, is a change from the pretty dominant pop sound, with its heavy R&B beat. Although I do like the change of sound, I’m not sure if I am totally into this song. The music is funky, a bit over-programmed, but the melody is rather unpredictable that the hooks totally don’t stick the first time around. It is definitely a grower though. Another change comes with CRAZY, which brings back the heavier dance elements. This is probably my least favourite song up to this point because the melody just isn’t particularly strong. I think hiro singing in falsetto sort of loses the energy. I do quite like the music though with its thumping beat. Unfortunately, there is a really weird rap that comes up halfway through that sounds out of place. Your innocence was the album’s first single and its biggest hit. It follows the pure pop sound of many other songs on the album, but it is my favourite on the album just because the melody is the strongest. The chorus is exactly what I wanted from the other songs because the music is powerful and matches strong hooks. It’s great. For a Long Night is another album track but changes things up with its more midtempo take on things. I love the eerie synth that plays with the light beat and xylophone. The subtle R&B vibes work nicely in the verses, especially with hiro’s bright vocals. The chorus isn’t as strong and the high notes are sort of odd. However, the song is still pretty catchy and I do think it is one of the stronger album tracks. Eternal Place is the album’s fourth single and the first full-fledged pop ballad on here. It starts off with just hiro and a piano but gains some instruments as it goes on. Unfortunately, this is one of my least favourite songs on the album. hiro strains through the chorus and it just doesn’t sound very pleasant. The melody is also dull and not that memorable. love you was the album’s third single and is the album’s next ballad. It’s not as slow as the last song, but it just doesn’t work either. I do like this one a bit more because the percussion helps to give the song some power. The melody is just not my cup of tea though. It’s a bit screechy and I don’t think hiro’s piercing vocals suit this soft song. Namida is a change and I’m not sure if I’m really into this song either. It has a spring, laidback kind of feel. I do quite like how hiro sounds throughout this song as she softens her voice to suit its jazzier nature. It’s a nice surprise, although I don’t think I will remember this track in the long run. It is a nice change though. Mitsumeteitai (DJ Hasebe remix PART-1) is the remix of hiro’s first solo song that was also featured on her debut album. This time, the song changes the more fast-paced, uptempo sound for something a bit slower and R&B. I think this one actually sounds better than the original just because hiro isn’t screeching her lungs out. It’s groovy and catchy, although I wish it had a bit more energy. Shiawase no Michi (Album Version) was originally released as the B-side to her third single. It’s a gentle, acoustic pop tune and it does have its charm. hiro’s voice sounds great and she shows her control here. The song isn’t as interesting as I would have liked, but it’s a nice show of vocals. ON MY WAY brings something fuller with its striking synths and steady beat. It stays in the mid-tempo mode for a long time and feels like it will build into something bigger, but it never does. It’s a decent tune, but feels a little lackluster compared to the other pop tunes. Hana ~Subete no Hito no Kokoro ni Hana o~ is a bonus track and is very different from the other songs on the album because it has a stronger traditional Okinawan sound. It’s quite beautiful and I think hiro’s vocals match this song beautifully. While it isn’t that catchy, I love the atmosphere it makes as it brings a more ethereal vibe. I think this is a great ending.
Overall: This album is very similar to her first, but it is definitely stronger as the melodies are all much stronger. It keeps that pure pop sound that was prominent in her first album, but it pushes it to the next level. My only problem was that this album was just too long and needed to be cut down by a good 5 songs. I feel like once it hits track 10, things just start to go downhill. With that said, there are some great pop tunes on here and some of the best “J-Pop” songs I’ve heard.