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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, August 22, 2008

Pryor's 'Malanai' a welcome return

By Wayne Harada

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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"Home Malanai" by Leokane Pryor & Friends; Mountain Apple Co.

  • Genre: Traditional and contemporary Hawaiian.

  • Distinguishing notes: Leokane Pryor has Island roots but left to pursue a career in California. Back home after 20 years, he's blessed with a gorgeous falsetto that soars where rainbows arch the skies, in this, his second CD. The title song, for which he composed music (with lyrics by Charles K. Ka'upu Jr.), says it all in Hawaiian about his journey home, recalling the fondness anyone feels upon reaching our shores.

    There are originals alongside memory-stained favorites, but the bottom line is the spirit of yesterday, with backyard combo-backing informality. "Haleakala Hula," a treasure from Alice Namakelua, is revived with sweet frivolity, creating visions of hula vamps. "Ke Ho'olono Nei" is a subdued change of pace, with peaceful treks through forests as a focus; it's a classic-to-be co-composed by Suzanne Case (The Nature Conservancy of Hawai'i director, who did lyrics) and Pryor (melody).

    A hapa-haole medley blends "Honolulu I'm Coming Back Again" with "Kaimana Hila," with Lee-Ann Paman, Pryor and CJ Helekahi sharing lead vocals and leading a trip down memory lane.

    Many more treasures abound, if you listen and revisit and let it all flow. A splendid liner booklet provides lyrics, translations, images reflecting dedication and pride. One of the year's best.

  • Our take: Leokane Pryor proves you can go home again and joyously demonstrate your deep-rooted sentiments.

    Sample song: "Hana no ka 'Oi" by Leokane Pryor

    "Take My Hand " by Kristian Lei; Women of Our World

  • Genre: Inspirational music.

  • Distinguishing notes: Kristian Lei has enjoyed a varied and vibrant career in music, including a stint as Kim in "Miss Saigon" in Germany. This CD, out for a while now, positions her as a powerful entity and bright light in the religious genre.

    She possesses a voice to reckon with; the title song, her own composition, demonstrates her spiritual commitment and the need to lend, and take, a hand for comfort and renewal.

    Mihana Souza's "Heaven" and "Let Me Be of Love" are suited for Lei's tone and temperament of the CD. Souza also guest-performs on Irmgard Aluli's "For a Peaceful World," with English and Hawaiian lyrics.

    Even the obvious "The Lord's Prayer" is a blessing for the ears and the soul.

  • Our take: Another lei for Kristian Lei no doubt with a seal of approval from above.

    Sample song: "Take My Hand" by Kristian Lei

    "Lefty Lucea" by Paul Hanna; Follow No Trend Records

  • Genre: World music, contemporary.

  • Distinguishing notes: Paul Hanna's latest collection continues his local-moving-to-California journey in a freestyle CD of 17 originals, with a folksy undercurrent and freedom.

    The tunes reflect his life experiences with the simple and the basics; the CD plays like a live show, with one vignette leading to another in a carefree spirit. There's a bit of sameness; but there's something here awaiting polish, like a diamond in the rough.

    Further, the titles don't necessarily link to the melody. Let's just say there's no reason "Whistle Me" or "When Summer Is Over" or "You" are so titled, but the ride is peaceful and comforting.

  • Our take: There's a lot of appeal and potential here; Paul Hanna's the name, and it may take an image-maker to shape his game.

    Sample song: "Rainbow Soloman" by Paul Hanna

    Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.