Ata Damasco, Pa'ina Hou!, Ululoa Productions
Since his recording debut in 1998, Ata Damasco has become one of the brightest lights in Maui's Hawaiian music scene, proving himself adept at gospel hymns and party staples alike.
On Pa'ina Hou, his fourth album, Damasco continues the feel-good theme of his last outing, Pa'ina (the title can be translated as "Let's Feast Again!"). The classic road trip tune "Ke Ala a ka Jeep" enjoys a jaunty retooling, with Kahakuloa as its new setting, and things get a little kolohe with "Kaimuki Hula."
Every song on the album benefits from Damasco's beautiful voice; on "Kalama'ula/E Mama E Medley," he stretches his falsetto out seemingly forever. Damasco is a multitalented instrumentalist, as well, handling everything from 'ukulele to piano to upright bass. He even plies an accordion on "Lai Toodle."
The album's highlight is Damasco's one original composition, "Eclipse." In quintessential Hawaiian fashion, Damasco mythologizes Maui's 1991 solar eclipse, providing a beautifully poetic explanation for the concealing cloud cover that disappointed so many at the time.
True to its title, Pa'ina Hou is a feast of traditional Hawaiian and hapa-haole standards, expertly served up with Damasco's smooth falsetto and low-key playing. Will go over perfectly at your next pa'ina.