(Robert Sterling Music New York Publishing)
Baba B. came out of West Oahu and broke out big in 1997 with his debut album, "Big Boy in Love." The semiautobiographical title song was an instant hit. So was his heartfelt tribute to Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole — "Iz I Wanna Be Like You." (Baba recalls Iz telling him, "Boy, it’s good you like be like me, but no be big like me.")
Baba built on his initial success with two follow-up albums — "Local Boy" in 1999 and "Babalicious" in 2001 — expanding his musical horizons as a songwriter while never losing his feel for homespun love songs.
A long decade later, he is back with a new hit. "Another Rainbow," written by R.D. Pileggi and Boneigh Napoleon, pairs a sweet and inspirational lyric with a simple acoustic melody. A single ukulele provides instrumental accompaniment as Baba delivers a message of hope for turbulent times: "See it all through the gray clouds/There’s another rainbow."
The song is also a preview of Baba’s upcoming full-length album, "Gave You the World." It is available on iTunes.
‘Promises & Expectations’
Set aside arbitrary statutory restrictions that can differ from one jurisdiction to the next, and age really is nothing but a number. The latest proof of that is found in this new six-song extended-play recording by EMKE.
The quartet — Kira Santos, Ezri Santos, Mari Arakawa and mono-monickered Payton — range in age from 11 to 15, but don’t write them off as a "kid rock band" or novelty act. The girls are multitalented singers and musicians who each play guitar, bass and keyboards; the lone male in the group, Payton, is a powerful rock drummer. The members are younger than those in most bands on the local scene, but they’re not kids playing at being a band. They can rock hard and do a credible job playing bar-band remakes of rock classics. This collection of originals shows they have talent and potential as writers as well.
Santos is the primary writer, although she collaborated with Mari and Ezri on two songs. One of them is the title track, in which Kira and Mari get room to stretch out as guitarists. The other three-way writing project, "Too Late," is a frantic snapshot of a troubled relationship couched in terms people of all ages can relate to. "Please, give me a reason to stay," Ezri pleads while guitars wail and Payton’s drums thunder around her.
OK, so it may make adults of a certain age uncomfortable to hear teens who are still too young to get a driver’s license singing about abusive relationships, broken hearts and "your touch on my skin," but Paul Anka was just about the same age when he addressed similar topics with equal intensity as a teenage hit-maker in the 1950s. Human emotions never change.
If this were a traditional release, the song "Open Eyes" would be the lead-off number that sells the project. Kira’s voice has a plaintive yet angry edge as she sings over the melodic but forceful instrumental arrangement: "We know it’s never easy/To trust a lying soul/But yet we end up falling/Left to survive alone/Why are the innocent broken?" It’s a question that has intrigued writers and bedeviled romantics for millenia.
"Is it possible/To look me in the eyes/And reveal to me/A truth that’s not twisted?" she inquires in "My Own Enemy." No question about it, EMKE won’t lack good original material.
"Promises & Expectations" is available at www.emkehawaii.com.