Amy Hānaiali'i

A Hawaiian Christmas

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Amy Hänaiali'i has a gorgeous voice -- that much can safely be taken as an assumption at this point. Lately, she's been exploring some new musical directions with outstanding results. On this album, she takes on the classic Christmas songbook, but with a twist: some two-thirds of the songs are in Hawaiian. What this can do for the casual listener is provide a series of surprises. Glancing at the track listing, one doesn't recognize much of the fare; certainly, few listeners have a keen familiarity with "Hamau E Na Kanaka" -- or do they? Shortly into the song, despite the usage of Hawaiian, one suddenly realizes it's "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." Because of the way that the Hawaiian language can flow gently, using few hard consonants and many long vowels, the songs come out beautifully. If anything, the language conversion serves to highlight Hänaiali'i's vocals further -- you know the song, but the lyrical content is essentially removed for most listeners. No songs show themselves as clear highlights, and all somewhat equally jostle one another for their time in the spotlight. They're all standards of composition and tradition, but Amy Hänaiali'i's peerless vocals present them in a grand way.

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