Island Mele: Keale celebrates home and family; Moon previews next album
Reviews of the latest Hawaii-based music releases by Star-Advertiser music critic John Berger.
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“COME BACK HOME”
Michael Keale (Pono Ridge Music)
Although Michael Keale was born on Oahu, he saw moving to Kauai as a return home. His Keale ancestors came from Kauai and Ni‘ihau, and the Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau got their name from the fact that the Kamakawiwo‘ole brothers’ mother was a Keale.
Keale documents his place in a talented family with this impressive full-length album.
In the liner notes, he explains that the album’s cheery title song, written in a style reminiscent of the teen pop of the early 1960s, came after a dark period in his life.
“Ku‘u Home ‘O Kaua‘i” is an original song, with English lyrics written by his wife, Linda Lester Keale and a Hawaiian translation by Kalikolihau Paik. In either language, “there’s no place like home!”
Getting into the classics, Keale does a terrific job with “Holoholo Ka‘a” and “Aloha No Au I Ko Maka.”
An appropriately romantic treatment of “Besame Mucho” reveals a third part of Keale’s repertoire; he writes in the liner notes that his mother sang it as a lullaby.
Other songs also tie into Keale family history. “Scotch and Soda,” a hit for the Kingston Trio in 1958, was introduced to a new generation by Keale’s uncle, the late Moe Keale, in 1980; he takes a different approach to it.
“Hawai‘i Calls” also connects to Moe Keale, who sang it in Waikiki in the 1990s. So does “Hanohano Wailea” — music by Moe Keale, lyrics by Kihei de Silva — which restores the original Hawaiian place names to landmarks generally known by haole (non-Hawaiian) names.
There are family ties in the final song too. “Kahea O Keale” was written by Louis “Moon” Kauakahi and first recorded by the Makaha Sons of Ni‘ihau in 1978. Kauakahi was connected by marriage to the Keale ohana. Keale’s new version deserves applause.
Keale’s substantial talents as vocalist and musician (guitar, ukulele) are a solid foundation throughout his celebration of home and family. Kale Chang, Jeff Peterson, Mark Yamanaka, Bobby Ingano and Don Stroud are among the guests who sit in on various songs.
“SHE WANTS 2 HAVE FUN”
Justice Moon featuring Peni Dean (Moonshine Digital)
An advertising campaign from Las Vegas inspires the lyric hook for Hawaii hip hop innovator Justice Moon as he previews the music of his next full-length album with this download-only single. “What goes on in the party, stays in the party” is the refrain to Moon’s tale of weekend partying and the search for, well, companionship.
Moon backs his rhythmic narrative with a heavy reggae/funk instrumental arrangement. Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winner Peni Dean Puaauli adds warm layers of vocal soul to the mix.