If there's such a thing as Hawaiian soul music, this legendary slack key guitar master and vocalist is one of its primary creators. Historically, most recordings in this genre have included slack key guitar only as accompaniment in a group setting. Over the past two decades, Dancing Cat Records' Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Masters Series has brought the instrument to the forefront, showcasing the stylings of some of the best players in the islands, including Keola Beamer. The passionate legacy continues with Martin Pahinui's long-anticipated debut on this label. Ho'olohe breaks tradition in its shift from strictly slack key instrumentals to an emphasis on Hawaiian vocal styles. Carrying on the extraordinary traditions he learned from his father, leader of the legendary Gabby Pahinui Hawaiian Band, Martin Pahinui shares his aloha for the native sound with 13 classic tracks full of slack key steel guitar and what has long been considered one of Hawaii's most beloved voices. Working with his regular ensemble (guitarist George Kuo, steel guitarist Bobby Ingano, and bassist Aaron Mahi), Pahinui sings lead on each track, ranging from the tender leo ki'eki'e (falsetto) of the dramatic and mournful "Pua Lilia" to the rollicking yodel on the joyful and swaying "Hanohano Hawai'i." This disc can be enjoyed as a way to take your mind's eye back to your favorite vacation in the islands, but for those who seek a deeper understanding, there are extensive liner notes that explain the creation and traditions behind each track.
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AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran