Mayo shines in debut CD


POSTED: Friday, October 09, 2009

'End of the Day'

Hope Mayo (Uprise)

This is a beautiful debut for the singer/songwriter previously known at various times as Sachi Sato and Hope Sato. She has one of those interesting, arresting voices that instantly catches the ear — sultry and seductive without sounding like she's trying to sound that way. Mayo also plays guitar; Adj Larioza and co-producers Todd Adamski and Dave Tucciarone provide drums, bass, additional guitars and the other instruments heard behind her.

Mayo and her musicians open with a beautiful cocktail lounge blues number. They maintain the mood with the next few songs — each is a sweet introspective gem. From that point on, they boost the tempo and move into the rock side of her repertoire.

Several songs display Mayo's talent as a careful, precise lyricist. Others are stream-of-consciousness stuff that rely on the instrumental arrangement to provide a sense of rhyme and structure.

“;Children”; is her message of thanks and appreciation to her mother. Yes, if you live long enough, you're likely to appreciate your parents much more than you did as a teen!



End of the Day


'Nani Mau Loa'

Ho'okena (Ho'omau)

“;Cool Elevation,”; the first Ho'okena album by the current four-man roster, was a Grammy Award finalist in 2005. This one, the 10th in the group's full 20-year history, is equally deserving of a spot on the final Grammy ballot.

Group leader Manu Boyd's strengths as a chanter, singer and songwriter are all utilized here; the voice of Glen Smith and the quartet's smooth Hawaiian harmonies are as always important parts of the group's sound. Chris Kamaka's bass gives the instrumental arrangements a depth they didn't have in the years between the departure of founding member Bozo Hanohano in 1991 and Kamaka's arrival in 1999. (Kamaka, Boyd and Horace Dudoit III were members of an earlier quartet, Kipona Leo Hawai'i, that won Ka Himeni Ana in 1986.)

With all that time in — Smith has been with Ho'okena for the full 20 years — the guys can be counted on to deliver beautiful traditionalist Hawaiian music with each album they release. That's exactly what they do here.

A medley that combines “;Kawika”; and “;He'eia”; stands out among the classics, although several others will appeal to listeners able to appreciate the nuances and kaona (hidden meaning) in the lyrics. Boyd and Dudoit share credit for composing “;Ka Ni'o o Maleka 'Ailana”; as a musical tribute to Barack Obama. “;Hanohano Helumoa”; recalls the beauty of the Waikiki coconut grove that is now the site of the Royal Hawaiian Center.

Mele Ho'ala No Ho'okena

Elue Mikimiki

Rose Lau Li'i


'The Movement'

One Groove (Common Ground)

The definition of “;local product”; has become more flexible in recent years. The Hawai'i Academy of Recording Arts now allows recordings made outside Hawaii by nonresident artists to compete in certain categories at the Hoku Awards — particularly reggae-style releases that are represented here by Hawaii-based distributors.

With that as the guideline, this long-anticipated second album by One Groove makes the cut with ease.

First, the music is reggae from start to finish. Second, although it was recorded and released by a California-based record label, the album is represented by a Hawaii-based distributor. Third — and this is certainly a plus in terms of “;local”; credibility — members of the septet have family ties here. Watch for One Groove as Hoku Award finalists in the Reggae Album category in 2010.

Four members share the spotlight as lead vocalists and songwriters. With two albums out, and a spot in “;Forgetting Sarah Marshall”; last year, it's no surprise that they write and record smooth, mainstream reggae-style music. Backing by eight studio musicians and a rapper give them a full, big-band sound.

“;Irie Groove Party”; is one track that stands out as a celebration of their Hawaii origins and the curiosity elsewhere about “;the thing called Hawaiian reggae.'”; It offers a taste of the group's kolohe side, as well.

However, a bit more information about some of the other songs would be helpful. On “;Lion's Roar,”; for example, is the group singing “;Barack is in the house”; or something else entirely?

Cloud 9

Lion's Roar