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Album Review

Keali'i Reichel combines two Hawaiian words — "mele," which he defines as "song, anthem, or chant of any kind; poem, poetry, to sing," and "lana," "floating, buoyant, moored, afloat, adrift; to drift, lie at anchor; calm, still, as water" — summing up the resulting word, "melelana," as "a lullaby." The songs on the album of this title certainly have the calm mood of lullabies, but most of them are not songs to put children to sleep, per se. Rather, this is a typically eclectic Reichel collection, always maintaining a combination of Hawaiian traditional elements and folk-pop, but varying from actual traditional songs to originals by contemporary Hawaiian songwriters (including the singer), and some material from further afield. Included, for instance, is contemporary Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman's "I Will Be Here," sung in English, with another English-language song being "The Road That Never Ends," a newly written wedding song by Jim Kimball. Reichel also reaches back to the interwar era for "Lei Hinahina," a song that, with its familiar steel guitar arrangement, sounds like the kind of music non-Hawaiians associated with the islands when Bing Crosby was singing it. Throughout, Reichel sings in his appealing tenor, making this a pleasant journey whatever side trips may be involved.


Born: Hawaii

Genre: World

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The most popular Hawaiian artist of the 1990s, Keali'i Reichel has artfully balanced obligatory concessions to American pop music with the heartfelt qualities of traditional Hawaiian chanting, a style that places tremendous importance on conveying intense emotion with the intricacies of the human voice. The first-born son of a German father and native Hawaiian mother, Reichel spent the first five years of his life living with grandparents (as is normal in Hawaii), learning the traditional values...
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Melelana, Keali'i Reichel
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