Willie K.

Awihilima: Reflections

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Willie K., the veteran of a multitude of styles, here performs his first solo Hawaiian album. Though he's been around on the rock and country circuits for some time, he here returns to his native music, with songs primarily from the golden years of harmony in Hawaiian music before the slack-key revolution; most of the songs here predate 1960. It's a jumping little affair most of the way, with some bouncing, guitar-driven strum-and-sing numbers. The fingerwork is outstanding as he moves from basic strumming accompaniment to his own vocals to short, virtuosic passages up and down the scales from time to time. There are some nice high-range vocals by Willie throughout the album, and some nice backup singing from his band as needed to push through a chorus or just add some extra dimension to an echo effect. While the guitar playing is quite good and the vocals are certainly worthwhile, it's the combination as well as the old songs themselves that make the whole, and it's the whole that matters here, with some outstanding music produced by the end of the process. Pick it up as a fan of Willie K. looking for his new directions, or as a Hawaiian music fan in general. For newcomers, some slack key, or perhaps Sol Hoopii, might be a more standardized introduction.

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