Island Mele: ‘Ahuwale’ a strong solo debut
REVIEW BY JOHN BERGER / email@example.com
Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winner Chad Takatsugi has an important place in modern Hawaiian music as a member of ‘Ale’a, the neo-traditional Hawaiian quartet that won three Hokus, including group of the year, with its debut album, “Take Me Home,” in 2001.
Chad Takatsugi (Koops2 Entertainment)
‘Ale’a subsequently downsized to a trio and eventually disbanded. This is his return as a recording artist. He translates the title as “exposed, conspicuous, prominent, obvious, in plain view” — all appropriate terms for the experience of being a solo artist. Takatsugi proves himself worthy of the spotlight in all respects.
Takatsugi’s choice of Hawaiian standards includes songs by Helen Desha Beamer, Mary Kawena Pukui and Dennis Kamakahi; his rendition of “Punalu’u Aloha” is breathtaking for the elegant simplicity of the arrangement.
Among several originals is “Ka Ipu Pala ‘Ole,” a zesty uptempo commentary on people “who always overpromise and underwhelm — it doesn’t matter how pretty the package is when nothing inside is of any value.” Takatsugi doesn’t mention any names but close friends probably know who the song refers to.
The production credits reveal that two of his old ‘Ale’a band-mates — Kale Hannahs and Ryan “Gonzo” Gonzalez — are among the guests who added their talents to one song or another.
Takatsugi and his production team complete the album with the Hawaiian lyrics, English translations and background information on the songs in a 22-page liner notes booklet. With that information provided kumu hula and Hawaiian musicians alike don’t have to rely on their ears to get the lyrics right.