Credited to Jan Rap & His Orchestra, this collection of Hawaiian-inspired music from the prolific French label Air Mail Music features some lovely, evocative island styles and is particularly notable for its shockingly good steel guitar work. The large group features ukulele, acoustic guitars, a rhythm section, and a number of male and female vocalists singing in the high falsetto style typical of traditional Hawaiian music. Though presented as a somewhat kitschy, tourist-baiting collection, Souvenirs d'Hawaï is surprisingly well recorded in a lush, dreamy style with tracks sung in both Hawaiian and English. Opening track "Nostalgic Hawaii" features some strong Western swing-influenced guitar work alongside vibraphone and ukulele, but tracks like the excellent "South Sea Loving" and the near-virtuosic "Sunny Samoa" best display the band's impressive chops, with the dueling steel guitars generally taking the front seat. Souvenirs d'Hawaï is no island masterpiece, but there is some vibrant, high quality music hiding inside this little budget disc, making an unexpectedly good souvenir.
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