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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 27, 2007

ISLAND SOUNDS
Faithful fans of Loyal Garner will enjoy reissue

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

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"Hawaii Today" by Loyal Garner; Hula Records Legacy Series

  • Genre: Contemporary Hawaiian, world music.

  • Distinguishing notes: Reissues, like this one, depend on appeal, concept and packaging; is there interest in revisiting the artist? With the Lady of Love, the answer is an emphatic yes.

    Loyal Garner was, and remains, a source of pleasurable listening and an icon in local music in her lifetime as solo singer and as a force in the now-defunct Local Divas. She died in 2001, but her legacy is her music. This reissue, of 1977 vintage, captures Garner's heart and soul; you feel her radiance and her mana'o and yes, you can imagine her loving smile.

    This was not her most representative or best work she recorded other products in her time with wider appeal but there are brighteners in the repertoire, like her indelible "Maui Waltz," laced with her idiosyncratic narrative midway through the song, which characterized her delivery in her heyday whether in a showroom or while she played piano. But there's a sweet "Hanalei Moon," a wistful "Morning Dew" and a medley of "Kanaka Waiwai" and "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" that suit and reflect tone of the release.

    The real bonus of the disc is the savvy refinements in the liner notes; the original, by Jean Sullivan, are restored with Cindy Lance's updated recapitulation of some milestones since the original recording was completed, with bio data the true-blue Garner fan will appreciate, like her 2007 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards Lifetime Achievement honor. And lyrics a Hula Records staple are provided.

  • Our take: Loyalists, unite you loved her then, you love her now. Put her back on the charts.

    Sample song: "Hawai'i Today" by Loyal Garner

    "Temptation" by Chazar'e; Faith Music International

  • Genre: World music, reggae.

  • Distinguishing notes: Chazar'e Belles, who goes by a single name, is 18, a Maui native, and on the move. The first track, "Life's Not Faire," is grabbing attention; its blues-reggae fusion and participation by Tribal Seeds are factors, but the tune also found potency in the Battle of the Bands on Island 98.5, so the original version also is among the 10 tracks.

    Chazar'e composed all the music here, indulges in multi-tracking vocals, with textures ranging from rhythm 'n' blues ("Believe in Me") to techno pop ("Chance of a Lifetime"). Just when you think she's all grooves and tempos, along comes a pair of wistful ballad ("Time of the Day," "Te Amo").

  • Our take: Hard to resist this "Temptation."

    Sample song: "Life's Not Fair" by Chazar'e

    "Pohoiki Blues" by Dru Kekaualua; DNM Productions

  • Genre: Hawaiian, world music.

  • Distinguishing notes: Dru Kekaualua has been a member of the group Kolea; his solo cruise spotlights his falsetto tones and tunes he associates with growing up. That explains the mixed-bag songlist. And with inspiration from Ledward Ka'apana, Dennis Pavao and Hui 'Ohana, Kekaualua hits the high notes on classics like "God Bless My Daddy," "Pua Lilia" and "Kanani A'o Kau." His originals, "Angel" and "Pohoiki Blues," bring a personal flavor to the plate; his adaptation of Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through the Night" momentarily shelves his falsetto notes. His power, however, is those upper registers even on non-Hawaiian titles like "I'm Stone in Love With You."

  • Our take: Though occasionally quirky, Kekaualua warrants fan attention.

    Sample song: "Love and Memories" by Dru Kekaualua

    Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.