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Music Review

Various Artists, Mana Maoli, Vol. II And III, Mana Maoli


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Forget sweetbread and huli huli chicken—charter school Halau Ku Mana decided to raise money by recording a music album. The result is an enthusiastic hodge-podge of live recordings, studio tracks, oli and off-the-cuff jam-session snippets. It’s a lot to digest, with more than 200 students and professional artists creating 89 tracks spread over two discs (although 48 of them are less than a minute long). For those willing to pick through the filler and miscellanea, there are a good number of strong moments, even if they don’t last long enough.

Kahale (Li‘i) Smith’s stripped-down rendition of the traditional mele “Ke ‘Ai Nei no ka Lani,” for example, is absolutely perfect—until it cuts out abruptly just 80 seconds in. There are more finely polished treasures here, particularly Paula Fuga’s duet with Jack Johnson, entitled “Country Road,” as well as some star power sprinkled throughout the collection, including John Cruz, O-shen and artists from Natural Vibrations, Ooklah the Moc and Go Jimmy Go. By and large, though, this is a sprawling roundup of countless backyard jams ... for better or worse.

BOTTOM LINE:
As a musical album, this collection could have used a more critical editing hand. As a raw snapshot of a new generation of Hawaiian musicians, it’s great.

Kapali Keahi - “Reign”
Kahale Li‘i Smith - “Ke ‘Ai Nei no ka Lani”

Paula Fuga (feat. Jack Johnson) - “Country Road”

To purchase this album, please visit http://www.halaukumana.org.

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Honolulu Magazine April 2017
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