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Final Fantasy VI
Grand Finale

Final Final Fantasy Vocal Collections: Love Will Grow
NTT/Polystar PSCN-5041 (JPN)

composed and arranged by
Nobuo Uematsu

Risa Ohki
backup vocals by
Ikuko Noguchi

1. Long Distance
2. Yuukyuu no Kaze (Eternal Wind)
3. Have You Ever Seen Me?
4. Valse des Amoureux (Lovers' Waltz) 5. GAIA
6. Tooi Hibi no Nagori (Traces of Distant Days)
7. Haruka Naru Kokyou (Home, Sweet Home)
8. Estrelas (Stars) 9. Kami no Yurikago (God's Cradle)
10. Love Will Grow 11. Prelude

11 tracks 42:41

Love Will Grow is the second installment in the Final Fantasy Vocal Collection, an Uematsu series that, based on the misguided execution of previous FF anthologies, could've been quite horrible but actually turns out to be quite a fulfilling listen. It's richer than the other FF arranged CDs; the tracks may not make as strong or immediate an impression at first, but their beauty is far deeper - you discover more and get more out of the CD with each play.

Take, for example, "Long Distance", the arrangement of FF4's overworld theme, which seems quieter and a bit more swiftly-moving than the original yet still manages to effectively convey its sense of wonder. After a few runthroughs, though, the undertones of longing and loneliness become more pronounced, and the piece takes on a new dimension. If you have a copy of the translated lyrics, you'll find that Uematsu intended "Long Distance" as sort of a musical haiku, examining a seemingly routine event or natural phenomenon (here, the fact that the light from a dead star is visible from distant worlds years after its demise) to find the set-up to a greater truth; the idea the words convey fits the mood of the piece perfectly.

There are new versions of other old favorites here as well - a serene and delicate piano-and-strings rendition of "GAIA", FF1's overworld music, a long-overdue proper arrangement of Relm's theme (unspoiled by blaring bagpipes) in the form of a soothing a cappella lullaby, a spicy "Melody of Lute" featuring easy-going, flowing Portuguese lyrics, and a charming "Prelude" - a simple-yet-snazzy duet set to a 30's Big Band/jazz rhythm with stilted "Engrish" lyrics (beats me why they did this, as the English found in the other songs is perfectly fluent). Half of the tracks are taken from yet-untranslated (at least officially) games, but that won't prevent anyone from appreciating the impish fun of "Have You Ever Seen Me?", the sad, reflective "Tooi Hibi No Nagori", a perfectly painted portrait of isolation, or the emotional power of the tour de force that is the title track. Special kudos must go to Risa Ohki, the beyond-gifted chanteuse who is called upon to perform in a wide range of moods and styles in four languages (plus backwards Japanese!) and pulls it off spectacularly. All in all, a refreshing take on Uematsu's work that's one of the most satisfying FF CDs on the market.

Reviewed by Rebecca Capowski
(originally published on her site)


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