Actress-singer Yuki Saito has released a new album - "ETERNITY" (Yamaha) - to mark the 30th anniversary of her career.
Themed on "moments of love," the album mainly features jazz classics sung in her engaging voice.
Famous jazz tunes, such as "Blue Moon" and "Stardust," suit her surprisingly well.
Various nuances and playfulness are subtly infused in her lilting, smooth singing, which probably comes from her experiences as an actress.
"There's a richly woven story inherent in each of the songs. I found them really worthwhile to express the world of each story," Saito said.
She decided to take on jazz, a new field for her, at the recommendation of a person who used to be a member of her staff around the time of her debut.
"If an opportunity rises, I like to just float along with it," she said, meaning that she had no particular preference in what she would sing in the new album. But when it was broadly decided that she would be singing jazz standards, she came up with the idea that the theme of the album should be love.
"For those of us in our 40s - who got married, had children and are entrusted with big responsibilities at work - there must have been times when we had sleepless nights over a passionate love," she said. "I'd be happy if people listening to this album relive the moment when they were enchanted by love."
Saito, a mother of three, brings to this album a time so sweet and dreamlike that one may forget reality.
Of the songs, however, a cover of The Beatles' "Across The Universe" shows a different side. She chose the song for the album by herself, which is unusual for her.
"The lyrics, 'Nothing's gonna change my world' are exactly the thought I've been embracing all my life," she said. "It's solitude that will never end. That's why I've been able to continue as someone whose job is to express emotions."
Saito debuted as a singer with the single "Sotsugyo" (Graduation) in 1985.
While she steadfastly maintains her identity, she has accepted ideas from those around her during the course of 30 years since her debut in showbiz. It was her family who applied on her behalf for the audition that eventually led to her debut.
"I didn't exactly adore [the world of show business], so somewhere in my mind, I was always wondering why I'm doing this," Saito said, adding that her years as an idol star were "a conflict with my sense of discomfort because I really wasn't cut out to be an idol star."
She has a detached view about the new album as well.
"I listened to [the album] and thought I'm pretty bad," Saito said. "In acting, too, I think I'm doing what I've seen all the time."
On the other hand, she became enthusiastic when talking about the song she was particularly keen about in the new album - "When I Fall In Love," a hit song by Nat King Cole.
"I like the lyrics about giving one's heart completely," she said.
Cool and passion - two qualities that often conflict with one other peacefully coexist inside Saito, which is probably one of her great charms.