Island Mele: ‘Waking Up’ by Maryanne Ito
REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / email@example.com
You only get one chance to make a first impression. Hawaii-based vocalist Maryanne Ito has made the most of her one chance with her debut album. “Waking Up” is impressive indeed.
Start with the voice. Ito has a distinctive, sweet and sexy voice that catches the ear on first listen. “Slow jams” was the term used in the 1990s to describe songs with slow rhythms, introspective lyrics and heavy, solid bass lines. Ito and her producers revive that genre in all its old school glory and toss in an uptempo dance club cut as well.
Ito and her production team are equally adept at writing romantic lyrics. “How I Feel” describes a perfect romantic relationship; references to “taking a flight” and “sitting on the shore” could place the singer in Hawaii although many places in the world have shorelines. Wherever the locale, the song fits the play lists of R&B/urban radio station playlists anywhere.
Two male vocalists — Daniel Sauls and mono-monickered Devaun — are prominent guests on one song each. Sauls is the dominant voice on “No Words” and Devaun gets the spotlight on “Good To Me.” Devaun’s promise, “I can be like Johnny Cash / long as you can be my own June Carter” is an imagnative crosss-cultural reference.
The final track, “WOW Outro,” ends the album with unidentified men talking about the experience of working with her, and then Ito’s own thoughts on the project. Its reminiscent in concept to “Tracie’s Hideout,” the closing track of Tracie Spencer’s second album in 1990.
None of this is Hawaiian music, but “Waking Up” is an album Hawaii can be proud to claim.
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.