Island Mele: Obsure recordings from local musicians were collected for the compilation, “From These Shores”
Paul Natto is an important footnote in local music history for being the co-writer of Kimo Kahoano’s musical signature, “Aloha Friday.”
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“Big Island Pieces Hawaiian Holiday Music”
(Fresh Flavor Publishing)
Paul Natto is an important footnote in local music history for being the co-writer of Kimo Kahoano’s musical signature, “Aloha Friday.” He currently calls Minneapolis home but makes a timely return with this three-song EP. He is apparently the only artist with Hawaii ties to put out any new Christmas music this year, and the songs describe the experiences involved in leaving Hawaii and living on the mainland.
“Island Holidays” brings to mind the years when Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center had an annual Christmas song writing contest; if there were a contest this year “Island Holiday” would be a front-runner.
“Big Mahalo” is a message of aloha to a long-time friend many miles away.
Life on the mainland can be stressful for expats, and particularly at Christmas. “Pieces” has a cheerful sound to it, but Natto wrote it to bring awareness to suicide prevention. (Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 for free, confidential support.)
Natto keeps the instrumental arrangements basic back-porch style. There’s ukulele, a little bass, some hand claps, some whistling, and, yes, what sounds like a horn section. Natto’s informal style is just what we need to slack the stress that comes with this hectic time of the year.
Available on streaming sites, including applemusic.com and Amazon.com.
“From These Shores”
(Aloha Got Soul AGS-025)
With “From These Shores,” musical archaeologists Roger Bong and Oliver Seguin share 13 long-forgotten obscurities recorded here between the 1960s and 1980s. Four names are recognizable: Eddie Suzuki got well-deserved attention when he released “High Tide” as a single and then as an album track in 1974. Lyle K’ang wrote and recorded “How Many Times” as a single for David Kawika Crowley’s Big Island-based Kawika Records label. Gordon Broad (“Righteous Morning”) continues to have a prolific career as a songwriter, recording artist and record producer. Hilo’s Dennis Soares (“In Hawaii”) is not only a tireless songwriter, recording artist and CD cover art designer but also founder/producer of the Big Island Music Awards.
Others came and went without a lot of notice back then. They deserve discovery today. Consider how Alice Wise blends multi-layered harmonies and hypnotic electronics on “Kaimu Sun” until the song becoms a soothing lullaby, or the the lush blending of acoustic guitar and bass that adds intensity to Denny Guy’s earnest delivery of “Say You’ll Be With Me.” Richard Reb’ll does Hawaii’s hard-rockers proud with his aptly titled instrumental “Reb’ll Echo.” In short, there are some forgotten gems here.
“From These Shore” is available on CD, vinyl and as downloads. Visit alohagotsoul.com.