Darren Benitez

Dear Mama

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Hawaiian singer Darren Benitez's truly lovely album, DEAR MAMA, adds a new layer to the intriguing relationship between Hawaiian music and mainland American roots and pop styles. The album is steeped in traditional island melodies and instrumentation, and guided by Benitez's hypnotic falsetto, which he uses to sing in both English and Hawaiian. Yet there are undeniable strands of more familiar continental sounds here too, notably in the wonderful T-for-Texas guitar interplay and Benitez's vocal similarities to the brothers Wilson. Though firmly a traditional Hawaiian album, DEAR MAMA is a gorgeous, subtly complex offering that reflects Hawaii's curious relationship with its mainland nation.

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