CD Reviews: O'Brian Eselu and The Green
ALOHA E ALOHA E ALOHA E
If you’re any fan of hula, you likely already know O’Brian Eselu as a top kumu hula. His halau, Ke Kai o Kahiki, not only swept the men’s categories at this year’s Merrie Monarch Festival, but scooped the competition’s top prize as well. But Eselu is also an accomplished musician and singer. This album, his third, is a rich collection of traditional Hawaiian-language songs. From original compositions such as “He Pomaikai (Maoli No)” to deft covers of favorites such as “Noho Paipai,” Eselu’s mastery of the form is clear.
Hawaii’s music scene is littered with lackluster, sound-alike Jawaiian bands. But from the moment the horns kick in on the first track of this album, it’s obvious The Green isn’t one of them. In fact, this quartet’s self-titled debut is one of the most solid reggae releases we’ve heard in a long time, with an airy, seamless sound, sharp, catchy melodies and, most importantly, rock-solid, original songwriting. This is an album to get lost in, and we’re predicting it’s going to turn into an Island classic.