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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, June 2, 2001

Island Sounds
Gilliom's 'Pu'uhonua' has something for everybody

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom's "Pu'uhonua" (Hanaiali'i Records HR 1968) is a satisfying journey into her past. It's her first album on her own label, which likely will shape her future, and it is blessed with musical riches, embellished with wisdom and artistry from her peers, establishing her as a singer who continues to savor and tweak her Hawaiian roots.

Highly anticipated, "Pu'uhonua" (Hawaiian for "a safe haven") has had an initial run of 10,000 copies, already snapped up by local record stores eager to wash away their lingering sales doldrums. Gilliom — and the recording industry — has a lot riding on this one. (The CD goes on sale Tuesday).

First off, she has taken on a macron over the first "a" in her Hanaiali'i name — signifying propriety in style and in spirit. And she has broken with former performing and life partner Willie K.

There are wonderful dashes and sparks that characterize this collection of traditional and contemporary Hawaiian tunes delivered in the Hawaiian tongue (with one exception) and it's a safe bet that many listeners will find solace, comfort and escape in her joyous vocal turn here.

Quick prediction: Her auntie-style delivery of the familiar favorite, "Ku'u Lei Hoku," with old-style voicing reminiscent of her indelible "Hale'iwa Hula," will be the initial pick that will propel the CD onto the sales charts. It has the buoyancy and vitality reflecting her cherished Hawaiian heritage.

She also shows off some of her composition skills on a handful of titles, including the cleansing and relaxing "Ka Wai O Pu'uhonua;" the romantic imagery on "Te Makohe," relating to the Polynesian Voyaging Society canoe's journey to Rapa Nui; and the hypnotic allure of "Kau I Ka Hano Ka Wahi," which tells of the love of a woman and the cherished attachment to lei.

You want mele inoa (name tunes)? Gilliom explores the traditional "Pa'ahana," detailing the charms of a girl living in the hills and collaborates with Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa and William 'Awihilima Kahaiali'i on "Aloha No Kalakaua," a ditty about the beloved monarch.

Eager for place songs? "Nani Kaua'i" is a fond and nostalgic visit to the Garden Isle, courtesy Lizzie Alohikea's composition, and "Moloka'i Waltz" similarly addresses the yearning for the Friendly Isle.

As for input and support from her musical friends, Fiji's duet on "Ka'ena" shows off his delicate side not commonly shared before; it's the lone Gilliom composition performed in English and one that has a pervasive movie-theme timbre and romantic quality (with Ken Makuakane's stellar piano backing).

Barry Flanagan, former Hapa performer, plays guitar on "Te Makohe;" Cyril Pahinui, Ledward Ka'apana and Makuakane (who co-produced the CD with Gilliom) are heard on guitar on various tracks. Bassist Marcus Johnson, steel guitarist Bobby Ingano and steel guitarist Greg Sardhina complete the back-up roster.

One niggling point: The first run contains liner notes with a host of typos, errant diacritical marks, omission of valuable translations and missing credits.