Ata Damasco

Pa'Ina

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What happens when a Hawaiian artist can't decide whether he should do traditional music or contemporary? He does both. Here Ata Damasco tosses together some classic hulas, some traditional songs, some more contemporary works by others, and at least one of his own pieces. While it seems a rather heterogenous thing to do, the total is greater than the sum of its parts, as the Gestaltists would say. The key to holding this together is Damasco's light way with the music. His vocals are always lilting, his playing always tender. To top it off, he's got a formidable falsetto for the occasion. Not only that, but he can hold a note to rival Whitney Houston (in time at least, if not power). The highlights are likely his faster-paced numbers. The opening track (in English primarily) is a bouncing, rousing number referencing the very jeep it's written about. Midway through the album, a simple jingle for KHBC radio brings the pulse back wonderfully. The album is full of nostalgia in its performance with references to the various creators of the songs (the Kamaes, the Rodrigues'), but not quite enough to leave the songs as revered, but sterile, as some traditionalists do. Worth a listen for those on either end of the traditionalism spectrum, and both should be at least partially pleased. A solid performance.

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