Tia Carrere,
(Daniel Ho Creations, 2007)

Tia Carrere is probably best known for her work as an actor, but running parallel is her career in music. With a beautiful voice as expressive and deep felt as you could wish for, she returns here to her Hawaiian roots with 11 songs mostly from the Hawaiian traditional catalogue.

This is very much a stripped-down album, presenting the songs in a deceptively simple fashion. Arrangements revolve around her expressive vocals and the playing of accompanist Daniel Ho -- the perfect environment for her singing to shine. Ho, a tremendous solo musician in his own right, is an inventive guitar and ukulele player, understanding exactly what is needed to allow Carrere the limelight while still adding the right touches throughout -- delightful picking, a sprinkling of jazz and a lot of Hawaii.

One of Hawai'i's most famous songs, "Aloha 'Oe," written by Hawaii's last reigning monarch, Queen Liliu'okalani, opens the album and sets the tone for what is to follow. Standards like Dennis Kamakahi's "'Ulili E," the traditional "Hi'ilawe" and the classic "I'll Remember You" by Kuilokalani Lee take on a new lease of life with the heartfelt singing and warm accompaniments. Mostly featuring songs in Hawaiian, there are a couple of English language songs. But language is not a barrier here -- it only adds to the magic. The only disappointment for me is "Po La'i E" ("Silent Night") -- a beautiful song, true, but forever associated with Christmas in my mind and out of place here.

Having said that, the performances are exceptional and the production clear and enveloping. With such a strong song selection, it's hard to find fault with Hawaiiana.

[ visit the artist online ]

review by
Jamie O'Brien

1 May 2010

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