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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, August 20, 2006

ISLAND SOUNDS
Gilliom delivers her best yet in back-to-roots CD

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

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Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom revisits her Hawaiian roots with "Generation Hawai'i," an exquisite album recorded during her pregnancy.

A pair of ki ho'alu wizards one legendary, the other earning his place on the mantle of greats offer new CDs, too.

"GENERATION HAWAI'I" BY AMY HANAIALI'I GILLIOM; HANAIALI'I RECORDS

  • Genre: Traditional Hawaiian.

  • Distinguishing notes: Amy Hanaiali'i Gilliom is happily and heartily back to her Hawaiian roots in her first album since becoming a mommy. In stores Tuesday, the CD was recorded during her pregnancy, which may have contributed to the glowing, lively results. The vibrant songs tap all layers of her indelible talent. The Alvin Isaacs classic "Kau'ionalani" has Gilliom singing in her upper registers, sounding very much like the "auntie" that characterized some of her earlier music. Growth and depth can be heard on "No Na Hulu Kupuna" (the lyrics are hers, the music by her producer, Michael Ruff), an anthem that explores her quest to go back to the ancient ways. A pair of other Gilliom-Ruff collaborations resonate with emotion: "Napua" is steeped in local lore, "Anahaki" reaches back to Moloka'i memories. And Gilliom performs "Ho'oheno A'o Pi'ilani" to honor Auntie Agnes Wood. The powerful duet " 'O Waipa Ke Malama Mau Ai" (by Michael Lanakila Casupang and Karl Veto Baker) features former Hapa member Keli'i Kaneali'i's rich vocals. The two final cuts offer peeks at Gilliom's versatility: "In Hilo Town" is a jazz blowout, while bonus track "Jewel" is pure pop that begs for a hip video.

  • The outlook: Gilliom's best to date. It should top the local charts.

  • Our take: Gilliom's liner introduction succinctly explains her stance in the show-biz galaxy, a directive from her late grandma, Jennie Hanaiali'i Napua Woodd: to be who she is and what she stands for. The CD marks a new chapter for the singer to introduce her daughter to this philosophy.

    "GRANDMASTER SLACK KEY GUITAR" BY LEDWARD KA'APANA; RHYTHM & ROOTS RECORDS

  • Genre: Ki ho'alu instrumentals and vocals.

  • Distinguishing notes: Ledward Ka'apana is one of the pillars of Island entertainment as a singer, a composer, a slack-key musician and he shows his prowess and proficiency with this reflective, resourceful collection of mostly old songs. Ka'apana possesses one of the nicest falsetto styles ("Fireman's Hula," "Green Carnation," "Poli Pumehana") that brings the listener back to a bygone era. And his ki ho'alu touch is the stuff of legend ("Aloha Ia O Wai'anae," "Kaulana Na Pua," "Kalua"). It's his tweakings outside the box that makes him an innovator. In his hands, the non-Hawaiian ditties "Lemon Tree" and "12th Street Rag" are converted into true Island experiences. The emphasis, of course, is on his slack-key pickings very nahenahe, very sweet, very comforting. "Grandmaster Slack Key Guitar" is a primer and a treasure; while the liner notes don't detail the history behind the music, ki hoalu tunings will enlighten those who play guitar.

  • The outlook: Ledheads will slurp this one up; it's never too late to join the brigade.

  • Our take: A masterful performance by one of the genre's masters. Er, grandmasters.

    "HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE SLACK KEY GUITAR" BY PAUL TOGIOKA; RHYTHM & ROOTS RECORDS

  • Genre: Ki hoalu instrumentals.

  • Distinguishing notes: Kaua'i's super ki ho'alu trouper offers a musical tour of his soul. The CD encompasses tried-and-true faves ("He Aloha Mele," "Kane'ohe," "Kekaha Chimes," "Lei Awapuhi"), lesser-known tunes ("Debra's Lullaby," "The Journey Home") and a tribute to Bruddah Iz (a medley of "Over the Rainbow" and "White Sandy Beach."

  • The outlook: Togioka is finding his place among Island ki ho'alu greats.

  • Our take: Anyone who cares about Island music should get this one.

    Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.