Island Mele: Alewa shares its ‘Blue Skies’
Reviews of the latest musical releases by Hawaii-based recording acts by Star-Advertiser critic John Berger.
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“ALEWA BLUE SKY MUSIC”
Alewa (Fiftyeight50 Media Group)
The musical legacy of Kalapana — and hints of America, Michael Franks and Crosby Stills & Nash as well — wafts through this newly released collection of 12 original songs written and recorded by Alewa. For instance, it’s easy to imagine Kalapana guitarist DJ Pratt shredding on some tracks, and Michael Paulo taking the spotlight on others. On the vocal side, all four members of Alewa sing; they harmonize in ways that would have worked nicely behind Mackey Feary in the mid-1970s.
In short, Alewa has a beautiful “old time” sound, and for a very simple reason. Most of these songs were written way by Kamehameha grads Lance Luke, Rockwell Fukino, Caleb Machida and Frank Niihau way back when. Recording them here and now is something of a “bucket list” project. Luke, Machida and Niihau are the main vocalists; Fukino is the primary studio musician.
Romantics will embrace the gentle sentiments shared in the lyrics “Pretty Baby” and “Lady.” The first fits couples enjoying the comfort of a solid romantic relationship, the other speaks of searching for it. An instrumental titled “On the Winds of Kauai” gives the quartet space to stretch out as musicians.
It is followed by “Hanakapiai,”a play-by-play narration of the experience of taking a hike, but after that comes “Poipu,” an instantly engaging rocker that pairs stronger electric guitar work with intriguing lyrics. Is kaona (hidden meaning) in play here? Like, what really happened to the song writer while he was at Poipu?
And, shout out to studio guest Jonathan Cabagbag who adds the Michael Paulo-style sax lines elsewhere.
“HARD TO BEAT”
“I may not win but I’m hard to beat.” That’s the message Hawaii hip hop veteran I.A. is sending the world with “Hard to Beat.” Officially released in music video form on Dec. 5, the song speaks for many Hawaii residents who come from a small place in the middle of a very large ocean but who are not afraid go out and take on the world.
The video shows I.A. on the field in Aloha Stadium where he is representing a side of Hawaii and its culture “that ain’t on the postcard.” Scattered through the performance are archival clips showing modern island sports champions — a little league baseball team, a sumo wrestler, surfers, the 1987 Rainbow Wahine volleyball team, the 2007 UH football team, a boxer, UFC fighters, major league baseball and football players, and 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.
I.A. sums it up this way: “People who mind don’t matter, and people who matter don’t mind.”
“Hard to Beat” is available on all major download and streaming platforms. Visit: fb.com/jrdn.salud.