Satoru Ono is one of the most talented songwriters in Japan and one of its best kept secrets. He’s already released three terrific albums, all shimmering islands of classic guitar pop in the roster of Kyoto’s eclectic Second Royal Records, and the two tracks on this new seven-inch are a perfect distillation of his talents. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing new though, and there are three key changes on display here since 2010’s Tales from Cross Valley. The first is that it’s coming out via Tokyo indie label Violet and Claire (run by Ono’s wife Sumire, of Twee Grrrls Club fame), a label specialising in short-run limited editions and cassettes and a decision presumably taken more for the sake of interim convenience than as part of a long term release strategy — I’d expect a future full length album to be via a bigger label.
Violet and Claire is a good home for this release though, with the production warmer and more intimate than the more cleanly constructed powerpop of its predecessor, sounding more like a band playing together in the studio. All My Colours (dig the British “ou” spelling) recalls the sounds and atmosphere of 90s Japanese neo-acoustic pop in its upbeat tempo and whimsical “ba ba ba”s, and Ocean Song shows the current rash of aspiring indiepopsters like Boyish and DYGL how 1980s UK-style jangle is really done.
In a departure from most of Ono’s previous recent material, both songs are sung in Japanese rather than English, although one probably shouldn’t read too much into that decision (many artists frequently switch between English and Japanese from song to song since some sentiments appear to be easier to express in one language than another), but at least it’s another example of Ono’s unwillingness to allow himself to get stuck in a single way of doing things, while at the same time never compromising the essential core of his songwriting, which remains only of the highest standard.