Posted | Comments Off
Island Mele: Sunway, ManoaDNA
BY JOHN BERGER / email@example.com
Sunway (Princess Lily)
An exclamation point would be a appropriate addition to the title of this long-awaited album by mono-monickered vocalist Sunway. It’s been more than 20 years since she made her debut recording as a protege of Johnny J. Jamm, and she has come a long way since then. Anyone who saw Sunway open for Adam Lambert in 2010 could see she was ready for mainstream national play. This album should get her there.
The opening song, “Toy – Carry Her Away,” is a polished power ballad that proves the point. She’s got the voice and the attitude for commercial mainstream rock. The title song — yes, it is a survivor’s inspirational statement of triumph and hope — shows that she is every bit as convincing with emotionally nuanced material.
Producer Joerg Alfter’s arrangements deftly draw on elements of several genres — rock, country and mainstream pop. A line from a Fleetwood Mac hit, “Dreams,” adds a familiar point of reference to an otherwise original, “Broken Heart.”
Two versions of “More Than A Friend,” another original, close this excellent musical calling card on an uplifting celebratory note.
Alx Kawakami — the “A” in ManoaDNA — continues to make his mark as the trio’s resident song writer with this limited edition CD. Kawakami, his brother, Nick Kawakami, and father, Lloyd “Dad” Kawakami, maintain the trio’s basic acoustic pop sound with support from Seann Carroll (drums) and Mark Tanouye (bass). Nick is also the graphic designer of the project, and family matriarch Carla “Mom” Kawakami wrote the liner notes that put the songs in context.
For instance, who would guess from the lyrics alone that the title song was inspired by the trio’s visit to Japan after the 3/11 tragedy there last year?
Others are more transparent. Childish rhymes and a simple Jawaiian rhythm capture the giddiness of new love in “What I Need.” Darker melodic tones set the mood in “Saying Goodbye,” a song suggesting that the end of a romance can be the start of a better one.
The final song, “Live Aloha,” awaits discovery by some local government agency as the theme for an upcoming public service campaign.
“Sweet Embrace” is available at the group’s gigs and at www.manoadna.com.
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.