Honey-sweet sound


POSTED: Friday, May 22, 2009

'Girl Talk'

Hula Honeys

; The traditions of smooth jazz and hapa haole music are blended in perfect measure in the second album by Maui's Hula Honeys—Ginger Johnson and Robyn Kneubuhl. The vocal duo works their musical magic across a collection of 14 romantic selections. A slight majority are jazz or hapa haole classics; the others are originals that could become classics in the years to come.

Hawaii is represented by the works of John Kameaaloha Almeida (”;Kiss Me Love”;), Melvin Paoa (”;Waikiki Chickadee”;) and Norman Kaye (”;A Maile Lei for Your Hair”;). The pop and jazz selections include songs by Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer and Jerome Kern.

“;Girl Talk,”; written in the '60s by Neil Hefti and Bobby Troup, adds a bit of humor in expressing the feelings of many women: Much as we enjoy talking among ourselves, we also like having you men around.

Kneubuhl's “;Hana by the Bay”; describes the delights to a journey to one of the most isolated parts of Maui. Johnson's “;I Dream About You”; and “;The Lei You Made for Me”; are more intimate in their descriptions of marvelous dreams and a romantic gift.


;» ”;Kiss Me Love”;
;» ”;Hana By The Bay”;
;» ”;My Heart, Your Heart”;

'Papaku—Bring It Home'

Faith Ako

; Expatriate islander Faith Ako “;brings it home”; with her choice of material on her second album. A majority of the songs are Hawaiian, several others are from unidentified Pacific island groups and one comes from the pop charts. Ako and her trio keep the arrangements clean and uncluttered. Fans of her work on her first album will enjoy this one.

Hula-friendly arrangements of “;E Wai'anae”; and “;Holo Wa'apa”; are among the standouts. A thematic “;Hilo Town Medley”; of three songs, and a second medley that blends “;Waipi'o”; with “;Hi'ilawe”; are also imaginative.

“;Ku'u Ipo i ka He'e Pu'e One”; has been a Hawaiian classic for more than a century. Listeners who neither speak Hawaiian nor know the meaning of the lyrics will still be entranced by the beauty of Ako's rendition.

Ako returns to English for the final two selections. “;Maui Sunset,”; written by Tarvin Makia, is a modern hapa haole song with traditional lyric images. “;Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying,”; the Gerry & the Pacemakers hit from 1964, adds a taste of her pop repertoire.

.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

;» ”;E Wai‘anae”;
;» ”;E Kuulei, E Kuuipo”;
;» ”;Hilo Town Medley”;


All Natro
(Tiki Entertainment)

; Rastafarian themes and solid Jawaiian rhythms percolate through the debut album by All Natro. Give the guys credit for coming up with an entire album of original songs. Kawika Samson and B.J. Crisostomo are the resident writers and the primary vocalists as well.

The group opens with several well-written political songs. One of them, “;Motherland,”; warns that the earth could “;swallow all who ruin culture”;—something that could happen in a land where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are part of our geologic history.

Others are enigmatic. Is “;Bush Fire”; about “;burning”; a certain political figure, or is it referencing Scripture? Now that Barack Obama is president, the question might be moot.

Samson and Crisostomo also write about romance, and those songs are good, commercially viable works as well.

All Natro invites controversy with “;Zion,”; a sociopolitical song that some might interpret as dissing Haile Selassie I, revered by Rastafarians as the son of God, by referring to him as “;just a movement.”; This is where detailed liner notes would be useful in clarifying the composer's intent.


;» ”;Bush Fire”;
;» ”;Heartbreaker”;
;» ”;Onward”;