Island Mele: ‘Shades’ deserves national play
REVIEWS BY JOHN BERGER / email@example.com
‘Shades of Grey’
Tini Grey (Isle Entertainment)
Tini Grey is remembered in Hawaii as a member of the Polynesian R&B vocal group Reign. He moved to the mainland following the group’s demise but continued recording as a solo artist.
“Shades of Grey,” a collection of 12 originals, reaffirms his talent as vocalist and a singer/songwriter worthy of national play.
“Acoustic R&B” is a handy general description for the music he’s doing here. Grey sings with a winning earnestness whether the perspective is first-hand (“Through the Fire”) or as an observer of others (“Hold On”). The rhythm section swings with a variety of tempos. Grey’s acoustic guitar is effectively supported by his studio musicians.
“I Feel Lucky” jumps out as a soulful upbeat description of the joy that finding that special someone can bring. Whoever it is that’s pounding on tambourine deserves credit for adding an organic over-the-top element to a strong arrangement.
“Weatherman,” is softer and more melodic, reminiscent of some of Al Jarreau’s pop chart hits and another potential hit for Grey. “Raise Them Up” closes the collection on a political note; Grey uses references to several decades of struggle in forging a call to speak out against contemporary injustices. Whether crooning or rocking it, Grey deserves to be heard.
“Shades of Grey” will be in stores next month. Get it now at www.tinigrey.com.
Kalei Gamiao (Neos Productions)
If the Olympics were taking place in Honolulu, and the producers of the television coverage wanted unobtrusive instrumentals with a Hawaiian flavor for their broadcasts, songs from ukulele player Kalei Gamiao’s new album would do nicely. Gamiao’s assured picking and strumming gives the album a Hawaiian-style focal point. Sudio musicians Fred Alcain (drums), Scott Mearig (bass) and Chris Sanders (keyboards) add ear-catching instrumental embellishments around him.
Nine of the 11 tunes are Gamiao originals. “From the Heart” and “Only Hope” stand out as the two songs Gamiao plays solo; they’re fine showcases for him. “Ain’t No Sunshine” is a benchmark selection that allows comparisons with the many other remakes of the Bill Withers hit.
The album would be a stronger package for Gamiao if the record label had included some biographical and promotional information about him on the back cover. Not everyone who sees the CD will know who Gamiao is or his credentials and accomplishments.
John Berger has been a mainstay in the local entertainment scene for more than 40 years. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.