Dennis Kamakahi

Pua 'ena

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Rev. Dennis Kamakahi's beautiful fingerpicking is carefully considered, decorous but not excessively ornamented in the manner of a Methodist country church. His vocals are gently yearning, helping immerse the listener in the joys of artistry and songcraft, rather than sweeping the audience off their feet in the manner of more fiery kihoalu slack key artists. Two songs on this disc are still as extraordinary as anything you'll hear anywhere by anyone. "Ahe Lau Makani," a classic piece composed in 1868 by Queen Lili'uokalani, wields an unforgettable melody that measures satisfaction with the fullness of life against a longing for what the eye cannot see but which the heart still needs to hold. "Koke'e" drives the same point deeper as it evokes the power of immortal memory and anchors it to the poignant English-language refrain, "Nevermore to say goodbye." The result is a gorgeous disc that earns its power because of, rather than in spite of, an unexpected Protestant character.

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