Keali’i Reichel: Kawaiokalena

November 22, 2015

reichel1Where the Heart Is

Listening Post 22. Keali’i Reichel is a pillar of the Hawaiian cultural renaissance. In addition to being a singer, composer, dancer and choreographer, he has taught Hawaiian culture and language, curated museum exhibits, founded a hula school and was a founding director of a Hawaiian-language immersion school. Kawaiokalena, his eighth album, is suffused with poetry and enchanting melodies, but like a good novel, film or painting it also has a powerful sense of place; indeed, many of the song titles are Hawaiian place names. The traditional Koali is an homage to the surf, fragrance, plants and birds of eastern Maui (video 1). Mele Ho’ala Moku (Fragrant District) is a chant that identifies Oahu’s six districts and calls on them to awaken (video 2). The title track, with music and lyrics by Reichel, highlights his mellow tenor while paying tribute to upland Maui. The 15-track collection includes love songs like the lush and relaxed Ke Aloha, backed by a chamber music group (video 3); and one good drinking song, ‘Omate Pahe’e Te Aloha (The Slippery Nipple is My Affection) describing several nights of carousing with friends and drinking the butterscotch-flavored concoction in the title. Among the album’s three tracks in English is a cover of Michael Bublé’s Home (video 4); in Reichel’s case, “home” is not just a comforting idea, we also know exactly where it is. (Punahele Productions)






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