I recently bought the second album of Ricarope, who is a Japanese pop pianist and a middle school English teacher. The album is called Pianovel.
A few weeks ago, I pre-ordered the album at Tower Records Shibuya to ensure that I got one of the first 100 CDs pressed. All 100 have a cover hand-illustrated by Ricarope herself. Marvelously do-it-yourself!
It's a cute cover, a colored pencil illustration of a girl sitting under a tree in a green field reading a novel, a red toy piano beside her. (Note to self: buy a scanner.)
I have illustration number 37 out of 100. Now, if Ricarope ever made it big like Elvis or the Beatles, I would be set. If I needed to, I could sell the illustration, and with the proceeds, I might be able to quit my day job and devote myself full-time to listening to Japanese rock (and, probably, go deaf).
My hallucinations aside, Pianovel is a nice album. Ricarope's playing and singing are just like at her shows, direct and swinging. Her voice sometimes shoots up octaves, like the piano's sound does when she drags her fingers across the keyboard.