Justin teams up; Willie K takes a look back
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor
"THE DREAMING KIND" by Justin, featuring Bitty McLean, Neos Productions, V049
Already a local hit, Justin's duet with Brit McLean on the breakout single "More Than Words" (yes, the old Extreme ballad), is reason enough to latch onto this one.
But there's a lot more from Justin Kawika Young, who uses only his first name in billing. His romantic works evoke emotions and images for young and old alike. He is hip enough for the kids yet smooth enough to please the young-at-heart adults; this wide appeal simply works in his favor on track after track.
McLean, whose roots date back to UB40, brings more soul than reggae to "Words," and their harmonies are intoxicating and heart-tugging. It's a winner. He shows up on two other cuts, "The Call" and "Get It Right," with equal hit potential.
Elsewhere, Justin performs in the Jawaiian groove on "Never Easy" and "Perfect Peace," the latter in the company of Norm and B.E.T. Again, his take is mild-mannered, easygoing and impressive without overkill.
A prolific songwriter, Justin's got love on his mind on his brooding "This Local Boy" and "Get It Right," two tunes dealing with rejection. The former features a midpoint rap, the latter a snappy, upbeat tempo. More sweetness and tenderness emerges on "Love Song Dedication."
Justin has had previous success with "covers" (think "My Eyes Adore You") so "Islands in My Mind," which borrows from James Taylor's "Carolina on My Mind," is a likely future signature and could evolve as his "Honolulu City Lights," in its handling of emotions shared when away from home.
The title cut, "The Dreaming Kind," typifies Justin's ability to eloquently put simple things of life into a melodic anthem; here, he simply upholds the importance of dreaming and hoping; verses, sung in Hawaiian from translations by Kua'ana Lewis, should broaden his audience appeal.
"THE UNCLE IN ME, VOLUME 2" by Willie K, Mountain Apple Co., MACD 2086
This is a wonderful reminder and reaffirmation of how innovative and individualistic Willie K has been over the years.
Eleven faves the known and the obscure have been assembled here as a quick study of and a revisit to Willie's turf: Hawaiian music with soulful and ethnic twists. Through his skillful ability to pick the right tunes, Willie demonstrates his depth and versatility.
You know most of the cuts; "My Ku'ulei," "Ho'onanea," "U"ilani E," "Honey Girl." You'll get reacquainted with "One More Time," "Los Hawaiianos," "Hawaiian Pride."
The voice, and the guitar work, continue to make Willie soar today, and these tracks are reminders of where he's been before.