Jake Shimabukuro

Hula Girls

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The soundtrack to the Japanese indie film Hula Girls is perhaps not Jake Shimabukuro's most outstanding work, confining him more to mood music than his usual showcases of virtuosity for much of the album. In truth, it's not so much Shimabukuro's playing that takes a tamer turn, but the inclusion of other artists on the soundtrack. While the album opens with something from his usual style -- complex, multi-faceted contemporary ukulele music, it's soon followed by the extra-soft pop vocal title track that seems to have come directly from the early-'90s archives and Vanessa Williams' songwriting staff. While Shimabukuro can pump out some high speed classic ukulele vaguely in the vein of a Bill Tapia, he's soon followed by the strictly adult contemporary-Hawaiian sounds of Na Leo. The ukulele music itself is quite good here, somewhat subdued compared to a lot of Shimabukuro's previous work, but with hints of his abilities and a few tracks from previous successful albums. As instrumental scores go, it's quite good, but for fans of the high-flying ukulele that's been the trademark of Shimabukuro's rise to stardom the album and its give-and-take between energy and lethargy may not prove the best choice.

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