Tomtit Twofer: Ryoko Moriyama (TMR 40)

College Folk Album × In Nashville

J.P. Williams
2 min readMay 19, 2023
Nashville, Tennessee, ca. 1930–1945. Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Ryoko Moriyama was part of Japan’s folk boom in the Sixties and Seventies, a time when vinyl records sounded best. The mixing, mastering and pressing resulted in a spacious, warm sound perfect for conveying the character of Moriyama’s voice, cozy and lucent. On College Folk Album (Philips, 1969), she sings sweetly through old-fashioned Japanese pops, sometimes to a sparse acoustic ensemble, sometimes to a swooning orchestra. Recommended track: “Tabidatsu Hito.”

Moriyama recorded In Nashville (Philips, 1969) with local musicians on everything from banjo to finger cymbals. In addition to Japanese pops, the track list includes the traditional ballad “Black is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair,” the Bobby Russell hit “Honey” and Tex Owens’s “The Cattle Call,” which Western Writers of America has placed on its list of Top 100 Western Songs. The varied cultures blend seamlessly, bound by Moriyama’s smiling lilt. Recommended track: “Frank Mills.”

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