Final Fantasy Pray (Vocal Collection)
INTRO: Final Fantasy Pray, a vocal collection of familiar Final Fantasy pieces in vocal arrangement, showcases the vocal talents of Risa Ohki singing in Japanese, English, French, and Spanish – possibly Portugese – accompanied by Nobuo Uematsu’s orchestrations of his own compositions.
1 – Prelude (3:48)
A capella vocals enchant, literally, the listener right into the arms of a harp playing the familiar Final Fantasy prelude. The vocals don’t float quite as well as the harp and it doesn’t move very far either, revolving prettily in one spot. But the harmonies and a fade out of the music set up for everything to come perfectly, like any prelude should.
2 – The Promised Land – Main Theme from Final Fantasy II (5:29)
Ohki’s vocals create an extremely bold first impression with this song. Her voice holds subtle beauty and power that commands the lyrics in the clear manner an oracle would present a fate upon a person who seeks her counsel. In the second verse, her voice is almost tender and sweet, if not doting, but does not lose any strength. Light percussion in the background creates a perpetual forward feeling that is amplified by the flute echoing the voice.
3 – Mon P’tit Chat – Music Box Song from FFV (3:11)
Light and bouncy, this piece starts of with a familiarly genuine video game feel by using synthesized strings in the opening. The lyrics to this song are ridiculously charming and cute. Sadly, the synthesizer’s tinkly sound gives the song a thin ground, but a noticeably happy accordian projects bubbles of euphoria all over the place to keep the song alive, until, at last, a jazzy piano breezes the piece into a satisfying end.
4 – Toki no Hourousha (Wanderer of Time) – Terra’s Theme from FFVI (4:05)
“Toki no Hourosha” is all the beauty and magic of Final Fantasy music gracefully embodied in 4 breathtaking minutes of pure genius. Given, Terra’s Theme was a gorgeous piece to begin with, but the opening of a flute playing over heavy percussion, light military rap, low strings, and harp warns you: this will not be like any other gorgeous piece you’ve ever heard. And it isn’t. Uematsu’s orchestration does not disappoint. As a friend so eloquently described it, “it’s unbelievable”. Soaring strings pull the listener right in as Ohki’s vocal harmonies trap the ears with her rather amazing power to project such force and strength in her singing. It overflows with grandeur. Unfortunately, a fade-out ending leaves the listener dangling, wanting more, and wishing it wasn’t over. That is, until they hear the intro to the next song.
5 – Hikari no Nakahe (Into the Light) – Theme of Love from FFIV(5:24)
In a move of extremely well done production, the opening trill of the strings immediately lifts the listener out of any sort of disappointment of the fading effect of loveliness left by the previous song and right into another work of magic. This piece is not as powerful as the previous and instead plays out like the calm after a storm. Ohki’s voice is lighter here, but dripping with emotion, as it sings its melancholy melody of heartbreak. At certain pivotal points, her voice even sounds like it’s sobbing. At the end of the song, the title of the piece becomes very appropriate as the strings, harp, and delicate piano float off what could just be the light in a heavenly resolution.
6 – Esperanca Do Amor – Dear Friends from FFV (3:44)
A delicate Portugese guitar and flute propel the song into a jazzy take of Dear Friends from FFV. The marimba adds a soft feathery touch and keeps things swinging with the flute while the guitar dances behind floaty but spirited vocals singing a lively and sunny tune. It’s a very simple song and extremely well presented.
7 – Voyage – Endless Ocean from FFIII (4:26)
Uematsu brings back the formula he used upon Terra’s Theme for “Toki no Horousha” in this piece. Strong vocals over strings that soar or keep a light tattoo. It doesn’t quite hold the same majesty as previous pieces, but the string motifs running on behind the lilting, a little less powerful than before vocals, and the orchestral interlude in the middle featuring more beautiful string work makes this one worth a repeat.
8 – Au Palais De Verre (In the Palace of Glass) – Montoya’s Cave from FFI (4:26)
This song is definitely the most optimistic of the collection. The lyrics fit the tune of Montoya’s Cave perfectly. It’s a cheery and bouyant tune with dainty percussion in the back. Comparatively, Ohki’s vocals aren’t as convincing as the song doesn’t require her to sing at what we’ve already seen as the full potential of her voice, but they still create just the right atmosphere for the song.
9 – Once You Meet Her – Maiden of the Water from FFIII (4:17)
A simple flute accompanied by harp tenderly introduces the main melody for this intoxicating piece. Gentle strings in simple 3/4 waltz beat keep the song moving. The alluring, marvelous vocals and flute trade off while Ohki’s lyrics are clear and pronounced as if telling a story, but instead of just reciting, it weaves an entrancing spell of music. When she reaches the peak of each verse, you can’t help but get chills from how elegantly exquisite this song is.
10 – Pray – Final Fantasy theme (4:35)
The synth strings in beginning cast don’t create much of an effect or draw-in again for a beginning of a piece. The theme and melody have been morphed into balladic march that is embellished by Ohki’s dazzling vocals and well-defined harmonies. This song is noticeably poppier than the others in its persistant percussion. A strange almost new-age sounding guitar interlude takes a bit of the strength that the vocals have built up from the start, and pull power from the song, but it manages to settle comfortably into its ending.
11 – Nao Chora Menina (Don’t Cry, Little Girl) – Kids Run Through the City Corner from FFVI (3:57)
The entire song is a touching combination of voice and acoustic guitar. After a power-piece like “Pray”, this song takes on a similar “calm after the storm” feeling that “Hikari no Naka E” did. Ohki’s vocals skillfully pamper the listener’s ears out of the music with a conclusion so smoothly and comfortably rendered that for a moment, right as the music ends, it feels that, for once, everything’s all right with the world. It’s simple beauty at its finest moment.
FINAL VERDICT:There’s not enough words that can explain the near-perfection of this collection. Song transitions are seamless, the arrangements, presentation, and performances are flawless: this CD is art. Extremely highly recommended.