Island Mele
Friday, January 4, 2002

By John Berger



"Fly Away"

Neos Productions

Jennifer Barber's first album for Bob St. John's Neos Productions label matches any contemporary album to come out of Hawaii in the past year. Recording as Lehua (her Hawaiian middle name), she's cut all ties to the vapid local pop scene and is showing her strength as a modern "urban" artist.

And, with St. John and Danny Sembello as her producers, she's also got solid studio support for the first time. In short, this doesn't sound like local pop; it's a career-best project, for producer St. John as well.

Barber does a single pop chart remake (Minnie Ripperton's "Loving You") and a couple of reggae-beat/urban songs for local consumption, but the emphasis is on fresh new songs and strong arrangements. Think Brandy, think J.Lo, think national charisma.

MP3 Audio Clips:
Bullet The One That I Want
Bullet Fly Away
Bullet End This Game
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Rust on the Moon"

IM Recordings

Mihana Souza, known as I.Mihana, is well known in Hawaiian music circles as a member of Puamana, the group founded by her mother, Irmgard Farden Aluli, almost 30 years ago. This album establishes her as a versatile solo vocalist and songwriter. All but one song is an original; the other was written by her mother years ago and makes a perfect title track.

A song or two could be described as contemporary hapa-haole, but I.Mihana is exploring other genres. Her smoky alto proves perfect for torch songs and sweet ballads, but she works the pop/country-rock vein nicely too.

As a writer she goes for one-word titles and warm images inspired by experiences with family and friends. As a "new" local song stylist, I.Mihana is instantly appealing.

MP3 Audio Clips:
Bullet Rust On The Moon
Bullet Easy
Bullet Fantasy
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info



"Music For Life"

Winston Tan
Golden Bell

Guitarist Winston Tan brings the distinctive sound of eight-string acoustic guitar to the tranquil genre of acoustic instrumental music. The extra tones provided by the bass strings may not be immediately noticeable on casual exposure but add richness to the soothing ambience of his music.

Tan moves outside the standard European classical repertoire to include melodies of Hawaiian, Jamaican and Japanese origin. His beautiful rendition of "Why Then is Ireland Still Burning" belies the legacy of that on-going conflict.

MP3 Audio Clips:
Bullet Why Then Is Ireland Still Burning
Bullet Don't Cry For Me Argentina
Bullet Moonlight Sonata
Quicktime | RealPlayer | MPEG-3 info

See Record Reviews for some past reviews.
See Aloha Worldwide for locals living away.

John Berger, who has covered the local
entertainment scene since 1972, writes reviews of recordings
produced by Hawaii artists. See the Star-Bulletin's Today
section on Fridays for the latest reviews.

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