CD Review: Yesterday & Today

Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawaii

In the 1960s and ’70s, the Sons of Hawaii were one of Hawaii’s most influential and popular musical groups, uniting the talents of such greats as Gabby Pahinui, Moe Keale, Dennis Kamakahi and Eddie Kamae, and showcasing innova-tive slack key and ukulele picking techniques.

The original band has long been disbanded, but bandleader Kamae has assembled a new Sons of Hawaii lineup for this release, Yesterday & Today.

As the title suggests, the album consists of both new and old music: Six tracks taken from classic 1970s-era Sons of Hawaii albums, and six new recordings, the first Kamae has released since 1980. Surprisingly little separates the two sets of songs—Kamae has lost none of the warmth and skill he showed off in his heyday, and the new members more than hold their own. In fact, it becomes an annoyance that the liner notes don’t clearly specify which tracks are new and which are old, leaving the listener to puzzle it out.

Maybe it’s better to simply enjoy the album as a cohesive whole, a document of Kamae’s enduring genius at creating mellow, country-tinged Hawaiian music.

Bottom line: From a vintage recording of “Kawika Slack Key” to a new one of “E Kuu Morning Dew,” there’s a lot to love here.