Kana Nishino, known for her songs about the wistfulness of unrequited love, has broken new ground in her new album "with LOVE" (SME).
A boyfriend who leaves his socks lying around after taking them off or a couple with different tastes in drinks - the album unpretentiously describes the everyday lives of those in love and is filled with warmth.
Nishino tuned 25 in March last year.
"I'm enjoying this half-baked state," she said of her age.
Speaking about the album, Nishino said: "The lyrics genuinely reflect my natural self. It's a very straightforward album. I hope it will make people feel relaxed."
At the core of the album is her hit song "Darling," which features a banjo. The sound has a twinge of country music, a genre she says she wanted to try.
"When the song took shape, it turned out to be too me. Compared to the prevailing 'Kana Nishino' image, it's more of me in reality, which is a bit more uncool," she said with a chuckle.
"Why did I fall in love with him?" the girl in the song sings about her boyfriend, who is different from the man of her dreams. Nonetheless, she is filled with happiness. The song has hit the right notes with both teenagers and adults.
Nishino is feeling there has been a good response to the song.
"Maybe it's a song people can listen to in a relaxed mode," she said.
Throughout the album, there is an aspect that, in her words, is like a collection of short TV dramas about a couple. Among the tracks are "Tough Girl," in which a girl vents her anger, and "Gomen ne" (I'm sorry), which depicts the awkwardness often felt after an argument.
"When two different people are together, it's natural that they have arguments. I wrote these songs not thinking about getting hurt from the arguments, but about the happiness of being able to be together despite differences," she explained.
Nishino's two best-of albums released in 2013 seem to have served as a good starting point for her to change the impression of her songs from wistfulness to warmth and feelings of happiness.
"It's happy songs that jive with a live audience. When I was looking at the smiling faces of everyone, I thought I wanted to write more and more of those songs," she said.
Her forward-looking state of mind is also reflected in the song "25." The title refers to her age, and the lyrics of the song contain some real life episodes from Nishino's life, such as an arrival of a friend's e-mail about her wedding.
"I sang it without caring too much," she said.
That said, women her age have many things to worry about.
"Although you're not really recognised [in society], you have to live like an adult. You can't wear too flashy clothes, you have to take care of your skin, and you worry about how high your shoes should be and what you say and do ... Depending on the day, these things become serious worries or sometimes they are just 'oh, well' kind of worries. When you are at this age, various feelings can change everyday, and that's fun," she said.
A wide variety of sounds are used on the album. The sound of an acoustic guitar stands out in "Gomen ne," while "Abracadabra" is a song set to an Arabian style and reggae rhythms are sprinkled in "Koi suru kimochi" (The feeling of being in love).
Together with her crystal-clear voice, every song on the album is sophisticated and easy to listen to, making them perfect background music you can listen to anytime.
There are many lines in the lyrics of the album's songs that end with the paritcle "kana," which makes everything the speaker just said unassertive.
"This time, there're particularly a lot of them. I don't like being assertive, you know," she said.
Maybe that is another hallmark of her ambivalent age.