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Shigeru Umebayashi

'Yumeji's Theme' - Single (2018)

4.0

Review By Catherine Lewis

December 31, 2018

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When I'm not listening to vocal music, I listen to a lot of instrumental music — and those are two worlds that rarely intersect. The Bobs' Rhapsody in Blue is perhaps the most famous example in contemporary a cappella, and even that piece is not strictly all vocal as the song is anchored by a piano line.

Instrumental a cappella fans can rejoice in this version of Yumeji's Theme: Japanese composer Shigeru Umebayashi has recently released his instrumental song as an all-vocal version, and it's beautiful. The song is perhaps most famous from Wong Kar-wai's 2000 film In the Mood for Love, but listeners don't need to know the film to feel the movement in this version. Soprano Grace Davidson translates the song's haunting violin line into a performance that drips with emotion, despite not uttering a single word besides "ah". Her deft dance through this gorgeous violin melody is absolutely mesmerizing.

The arpeggiated chords that anchor the track (performed by the Plum Forest Singers) are a little choppy by contemporary a cappella standards, and they're especially noticeable when they stand alone. But when Davidson pops in, her beautiful melody is all that you'll hear. I doubt that this will start a trend of all-vocal instrumental covers, but this stunning interpretation of Yumeji's Theme is proof that a cappella doesn't need lyrics to be moving, mesmerizing, and memorable.

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