Sonny Lim

Slack Key Guitar: The Artistry of Sonny Lim

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From the Lim family of players, Sonny Lim is one of the better-known musicians outside of the solely Hawaiian market. He's been involved in various collaborations and compilations heard further abroad than the usual Hawaii/Japan markets for the music. Here, he gets his first solo album and takes the opportunity to show off his chops as well as his composing abilities. His playing is quite nice, and there are hints of the masters that taught him inherent in the notes. What sets Lim's album apart from the variety of others though is his somewhat more modern invocation of slack key composition. The tunes still hold the islander's moods and lightly go through the paces of slack key tradition. At the same time though, Lim infuses the works with touches of folk and possibly even adult contemporary stylings. The result can at times get somewhat monotonous, but he keeps it fresh by tossing in a bouncing piece of old ki ho'alu when the tone gets too tired. Some of the other masters may be worth looking up first (the Pahinuis, among others), but Lim deserves a spot among them nonetheless.

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