Island Mele

By John Berger,
Special to the Star-Bulletin

Friday, May 16, 1997

Bergstroms drive Sunland successes

We Are Only Human/Juliet: By Sunland (Universal), CD single

SUNLAND'S second single is the second hit for Henry & Peter Bergstrom - Swedish-born writer/producer masterminds of the group's success. Peter imagined fusing techno music and Hawaiian chant; Henry flew in from Sweden and the rest is history.

Sunland hit big locally with "We Are Only Human" last December. The group is now the latest local recording act to sign a national record deal; Universal has repackaged the original locally released "We Are Only Human" CD-single and added a second song from the upcoming Sunland album, "Eruption."

"Juliet," is a techno ballad that displays the Bergstroms' range as composer/producers and Sunland's range as a group. Vocalist Chad Guerrero does quite well with the romantic Top 40 lyrics. The polished arrangement combines lush techno melodies with Hawaiian chant and a recurring melodic riff. The song is already a local hit.

May Sunland's success inspire other island artists and record producers to create rather than clone and copy.

I Am What I Am: By Joy (Roy Sakuma Productions)

THE members of this "girl group" aren't Tenderoni clones or Seduction wannabes. Their forte is freshness; Lily Sato, Nelly Toyama, Jaena Shimabuku and Candyce Narimatsu sing and play ukulele without affectation. Their repertoire consists primarily of island standards and originals by members of their production team, but Shimabuku writes too. There's considerable potential here.

Producers Roy and Kathy Sakuma utilized the talents of the Out Takes and Lyle Ritz in taking Joy beyond the basic ukulele-and-vocal "Super Keiki" format. "Pua Lilia," "Kanaka Wai Wai" and "Kane'ohe" are cleanly updated. "Hula Breeze" is cute, and Shimabuku's original, "Rain Garden," is a highly promising debut for her as a composer.

"Cumana" is their most striking instrumental. A Roy Sakuma-Lyle Ritz tune, "Nothing's Changed," is also noteworthy. Joy and its production team could easily create a distinctive new sound.

Miss You, Mr. Mercer:By Shari Lynn (Shari Lynn Productions)

SHARI Lynn's first solo album is a testament to the virtues of minimalism. Pianist Bob Corwin provides all the instrumental support she needs in delivering an exquisite tribute to the music of Johnny Mercer. It's an exquisite showcase for Lynn as well.

Lynn succeeds in personalizing every one of these pop standards, and excels at singing the emotion of the songs as well as their lyrics.

Count this as one of the year's best local albums in any style or genre. Lynn is marvelous!

"Miss You, Mr. Mercer" is available by mail order: Shari Lynn Productions, 337 Wanaao Road, Kailua, Hawaii 96734.

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

See Record Reviews for some of John Berger's past reviews.

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