Saturday, January 27, 2001
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Posted on: Saturday, January 27, 2001

Island Sounds
Brother Noland returns to his roots

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Audio sample of "Keawaiki" by Brother Noland. in mp3 or RealAudio format. RealAudio requires a plug-in.

"HAWAIIAN INSIDE" by Brother Noland, Tiki Talk Records, TTK 8102

Brother Noland returns to his Hawaiian roots with this relaxing, reflective collection of Island favorites.

He sings in both his baritone and falsetto ranges, playing 12- and 6-string guitars as well as ukulele.

Since he has been involved in a surge of contemporary Hawaiian and rock in recent years, "Hawaiian Inside" comes off as a sweet departure, revisiting songs of people and places of his beloved Hawaii.

"Kalena Kai," delivered in his upper registers and with ki hoalu backing, typifies the rhythms and lyrics that previously dominated his repertoire. In this phase of his career, the Hawaiian songbag is like welcoming an old friend.

"Keawaiki" is another jewel, with Bobby Ingano performing on Pua Almeida’s steel guitar, as is "Molokai Aina Kaulana," the traditional Molokai waltz revived with a passionate respect for the past and sung in falsetto tones.

And for his earthy, chicken-skin, backyard jam of a posture, examine "Aloha Ka Manini," the Lot Kauwe tune with a soulful Island flavor.

Noland’s brother Tony Conjugacion co-authored, with Noland, two tracks - "Ke Kama Ao Hina" and "Great Hawaiian Man," the former demonstrating their command of the Hawaiian language, the latter a ballad in English with wistful lyrics that could be interpreted as an homage to a father, a spirit, a source of inspiration.

On "Paani," a Noland original with a playful spirit, Erika-Rae, 9, and Brooke-Ligaya, 7, sing along, adding a measure of adult vs. kids give-and-take.

Audio sample of "On The Island" by Damon in mp3 or RealAudio format. RealAudio requires a plug-in.

"ON THE ISLAND" by Damon, Ricochet Records, RCR 1003m.

Since his 1997 CD debut, Damon Williams has dropped his surname and hooked up with Fiji, who produced this recording.

The voice always has been Damon’s force, since he won the 1996 Brown Bags to Stardom contest, and he gets the Fiji-style R&B and reggae makeover, even on songs he co-authored. And the voice survives the transformation, on originals such as the powerful title song co-written by Damon, or the "cover" of Peter Tosh’s "Downpressor Man," with its hypnotic reggae rhythms.

"Let Me Be the One" projects that Island rhythm sound dominating Hawaiian radio, complete with a bridge rap, but notable for its pure-Damon vocals, augmented by a effective choral dubbing.

A "sleeper" could be the Damon co-composition (with Benjahmine) "Polynesian Soldiers," addressed to Mr. President, with a political undercurrent regarding sovereignty.

And for a change of pace, "Aloha Kuu Ohana," sung in Hawaiian in the upper registers, is a validation of Damon’s Island heritage (San Francisco-born, but reared on Maui).

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