John Cruz

One of These Days

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

It's theoretically a Hawaiian album, by a Hawaiian artist, but John Cruz's sophomore effort opens up with a bang straight out of modern blues. The album-opening title track has a thumping beat, a strong delivery, and a groove built in that'd make Harry Connick jealous. From there, the album moves into slightly more of a Hawaiian mode, using as a springboard the R&B of "If That's the Way She Wants It" -- a throwback to some of the early-'90s mainstream sounds, but with a more authentic jam session feel courtesy of Cruz's guitar and backing band. With "Hurricane," the album finally makes its full landing in Hawaiian sounds, with an almost stereotypically island-like delivery. By the time he hits "Hi'ilawe," Cruz has shifted out of English for the lyrics. The album bounces back and forth between contemporary Hawaiian and R&B balladry for the duration, with the exception of another outstandingly strong show of the blues in "Baby's Gone Blues," letting Cruz pull out the electrics for the backing band (as well as a fine lap steel courtesy of Greg Leisz) -- and start shoutin' the way it seems he was meant to do. The mix of styles here can be both a blessing and a curse -- while it could prove a bit incoherent for casual listeners just looking for some nice contemporary Hawaiian, the sheer shows of force in the various styles could leave others wishing for a full album of the blues, or of R&B, or straightforward Hawaiian.

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