S&R, Sean Naauao and Robi Kahakalau, (Poi Pounder Records)
Now here’s a collaboration that makes perfect sense. Sean Naauao and Robi Kahakalau have each made their names with poppy, reggae-tinged songs perfect for playing in the car on the way to the beach—Naauao as the author of inescapable radio hits such as “Fish and Poi,” and Kahakalau as part of the early ’90s sensation Hawaiian Style Band.
On S&R, the two update that template with a collection of songs honed by two years of performing together. Both artists have matured since their early stuff—these songs feature Hawaiian-language lyrics and a more traditional sound—but they haven’t forgotten the sugar.
The result is a tasty new sound that even Jawaiian-haters would be hard-pressed to dismiss. Kahakalau’s voice is as sweet as ever, and Naauao has a knack for extracting every last drop of melody from a composition.
The traditional song “Ka Lei E,” for example, has been juiced with a loping beat, a steel guitar and a rich vocal chorus, turning it into a warm, feel-good anthem of summer.
One caveat: You might want to skip the saccharine, easy-listening cover of Roberta Flack’s “Where Is the Love.” Unless you’re into that kind of thing, of course.
Bottom line: Here’s hoping Sean and Robi stick together.