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The Honolulu Advertiser
August 13, 2006 - Wayne Harada
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Island Sounds
Keawe originals highlight of 'Hula'

Two recent CDs focus on instrumentalists who also sing: John Keawe, a pioneer of ki ho'alu, and Sol Ho'opi'i, a specialist in Hawaiian steel guitar.


• Genre: Ki ho'alu instrumentals (including a few vocals).

• Distinguishing notes: John Keawe long has been a revered and respected slack-key guitarist. He's all about simplicity with precision, and his newest does not disappoint. He wrote all 14 instrumentals (with two collaborations) and four vocals; these are fresh originals. The title song (one of the vocals) is a tribute to Hope, Keawe's wife, and is a sweet Valentine. There's tranquility and solace on " 'Aina Hanau," a ditty about birthplaces. "Aloha Pueo" describes a rhapsodic encounter with an owl during a journey in the Volcano area. "Gentle Spirit" soothes, inspired by the Christmas season and "a higher source." "Hana Pipi" is an excursion in time to paniolo and vaquero days in Kohala.

"Gimme Some Slack" is very nahenahe, like a spontaneous backyard jam, with Keawe's mastery on guitar in full throttle.

• The outlook: Should be a major contender come award time. Locally, nationally — a disc for all seasons.

• Our take: Reassuring evidence the ki ho'alu is alive and kicking — and in good hands.

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