Music Review

Barefoot Natives, Barefoot Natives, Malama Pono Productions


Published:

Willie K and Gilliom are back! Well, sort of. This time, it’s Amy’s brother Eric who’s sharing the stage with Hawai‘i’s most versatile musician, as the Barefoot Natives. It’s a good matchup, as the wonderful harmonies on Scott Ha‘i’s “Ahulili” show, but you get the feeling Willie K could make beautiful music with a frog, if he wanted. On its own, Gilliom’s Broadway-tested voice is solid, if a little short on character. During the Barefoot Natives’s cover of “Ku‘u Home o Kahalu‘u,” I kept wishing that Willie had taken the lead vocal, to more closely emulate the wistful tone of Jerry Santos’ original. Maybe it’s silly to complain about someone being too smooth—Gilliom’s one original song, “Back to Honopo,” (listen below) is a Disney-worthy lullaby. But Kahaialii steals the show with famous wit and energy. His up-tempo “Home Away from Home” (listen below) is the closest thing Hawai‘i has come to the defiant ebullience of Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.”

Another highlight: the echo-laden surf guitar washes on “Napua Lei Ilima.”

BOTTOM LINE:
Gilliom and Kahaiali‘i make for a promising duo, but it would be great to have more original compositions. No one needs another cover of “Something.”

“Back to Honopo”
“Home Away from Home”
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