Keali'i Reichel's Ke'alaokamaile is a concept album about his immediate ancestors, specifically his grandmother. This allows him to choose songs touching on various aspects of Hawaiian culture and fill the sepia-toned CD booklet with photographs of his relatives and nostalgic reminiscences of his childhood. Despite the thematic frame, however, the album, as a collection of material, follows essentially the same formula as other Reichel albums, combining originals and songs by his musical associates with some older and traditional Hawaiian material and a few covers of songs in a soft rock/adult contemporary vein. In this case, those covers include Sting's "Fields of Gold," Babyface's "You Were There," and Karla Bonoff's "Goodbye My Friend." Typically, such Western pop fare is contrasted with native pieces, such as the traditional chant "Lei Hana I Ka Makani Ualau'awa" sung over only a drum accompaniment, which follows right after the Babyface song; "Na 'Ono O Ka 'Aina," a less ancient traditional song complete with ukulele, and "Pupu A'o 'Ewa," the first song Reichel remembers learning to sing as a child, follows "Fields of Gold." This sort of mixture of styles is typical of Reichel's albums as he tries to marry the different aspects of his musical influences into a multicultural whole. He wants to hold onto Hawaiian music in its long heritage and add to that repertoire, at the same time that a part of him seemingly would like to sing adult contemporary pop in English. On this album, he claims these different styles as his own by casting them as a part not only of his autobiography, but also of his genealogy.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann