Bruce Shimabukuro

Bits & Pieces

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Bits & Pieces is the first album from Bruce Shimabukuro without his BS Band, released on his brother Jake's Hitchhike label. Bruce plays a version of the singer/songwriter guitar style, perhaps propelled by the success of Hawaiian artists like Jack Johnson, as well as his own brother (though he's not so much of a singer/songwriter). The music is well-constructed, with a surprisingly mature vocal style, not stretching farther than the song calls for, while also not giving anything less than the song calls for. The album opens with "You Could," starting out suspiciously similar to the Buggles' classic "Video Killed the Radio Star" before developing into a fuller piece of contemporary pop. "If I Could Fly" comes across a little more flatly, but leads well into the title track, also heard as a bonus on a previous album, Incognito. This title track is the highlight in terms of composition and vocals, coming across as heartfelt without getting too sappy, and including a nice uke solo from Jake on the side. "Moving On" is rather poppy in its own right, with tones of a Smash Mouth composition almost coming through from time to time. "I Lied" serves primarily as a platform for Bruce's vocals, though he sounds a bit thin with a sparser instrumental background serving as a canvas. The album ends with the instrumental "Tokada," a duet of ukuleles between Bruce and Jake in the vein of a Chick Corea composition with an incredible speed and virtuosity shown by both parties: this is the music that the Shimabukuros are really known for, and serves as a fine contrast to what Bruce is trying to do with this singer/songwriter album. The music throughout the album is quite good; the compositions are strong and instrumental work is very strong, with Jeff Kloetzel providing an outstanding acoustic guitar on most tracks and a stray electric guitar or uke line coming from Jake to accentuate Kloetzel's and Bruce's melodic lines. Given the history of Bruce's music and the name recognition from Jake's work, most listeners won't be expecting what they'll hear on Bits & Pieces. They'll be pleasantly surprised.

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