Norman Ka'awa Solomon

Na Mele O Kaua'I (The Best Songs of Kaua'i), Vol. 1

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Despite being openly sponsored by the island's tourism bureau, this album of songs from and about Kauai from Ka'awa Solomon has exactly the right mix of old and new, nostalgia for times past and celebration of times present. The pieces are generally low tempo and relaxed, with Ka'awa laying out a lazy vocal melody over the top of a pair of guitars loosely playing along (courtesy of Ken Emerson on steel and Bryan Kessler on slack key). While the compositions are largely relatively new, the feel of the album is not. This music intentionally plays to the desire for a simpler time and place, highlighting the simplicity of place in particular. These are neighborhood barbecue songs from the island, songs of love for home, and adaptations of local tales. Hawaiian music isn't hard to find, and this album is pretty stereotypical in its sound. However, it's a fine album for an example of the songwriting specific to Kauai, and the performances by all parties involved are excellent by any measure.

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