CJ Helekahi,
Ka Mahina
(Mountain Apple, 2010)

Hana is a small town, set on the windward side of Maui. The journey there takes twists and turns as it follows a spectacular coastline around the foot of Haleakua, Maui's long-dormant volcano. The drive is full of the unexpected, the scenery is inspiring and the destination welcoming.

CJ Helekahi comes from an old Hana family and on this album, Ka Mahina, he presents all the elements and emotions of the journey to his hometown. His tenor and falsetto vocals are rich and full, his strummed ukulele accompaniments are warm and steady and his choice of songs creates a moving tapestry that is deeply satisfying. Whether singing a Johnny Noble hapa-haoli (English lyric Hawaiian song) standard such as "Church in an Old Hawaiian Town," an old classic like "Hilo Hula," a hymn ("Hele Mai") or "Never This Lucky," one of his own songs, he delves deeply into the music and recounts the stories with such meaning that you are inevitably drawn in.

He's joined by a number of friends and often takes a back seat, allowing them to provide the instrumental work. Guitars, ukuleles, bass and synthesizer create sympathetic surroundings, never intruding but always interesting.

Particular standouts are his musical partner (they often appear together at the Hana Hotel and elsewhere), Leokane Pryor (ukulele, vocals), and Dave Tucciarone (bass, guitar), who as producer has captured the perfect atmosphere.

music review by
Jamie O'Brien

20 November 2010

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new