Leokane Pryor,
Home Malanai
(Naupake, 2007)

If you take the highway east of Kahului, Maui's main airport, and travel 50 or so miles, you'll arrive at the small town of Hana. The journey will take up to four hours and be one of the most spectacular you've ever taken. It's in this heavenly, somewhat isolated spot that Leokane Pryor has chosen to settle down. Born and raised on Oahu, he later moved to the Mainland before returning to the Islands. And now he presents his second album, Home Malanai, a delightful 50 minutes' collection of a dozen songs reflecting on his life leading to his home, "Malanai."

Falsetto singing evolved over the years in Hawaii to the art form it is today, and tenor Pryor is quite an exponent of the style. His pure voice soars through the melodies, full-bodied and emotional, switching effortlessly between natural and falsetto, with a beautiful hop as he steps up from one to the other.

The 12 songs run the gamut from lively to lonely, a delightful mix of tradition and contemporary. The excellent liner notes give lyrics, including translations of the Hawaiian songs. He wrote half the songs and delves into a diverse songbook for the remaining six. From Kirk Graham Livingston's wistfully pleading "Why Can't We Be in Love" to Alice Namakelua's standard, the exuberant "Haleakala Hula" (complete with infectious "ooo-ooo"s), Pryor handles each song with great understanding and appreciation.

His singing and ukulele playing is supplemented by a handful of musicians on bass, guitar, ukulele and backup vocals. The accompaniment provides the perfect setting for his warm, emotional voice. He shares lead on three songs with Puna Keli'iho'omalu, Lee-Ann Paman and C.J. Helekahi and all four add harmonies.

Leokane Pryor has created an album that suits his home. As you listen to Home Malanai, you just might find you don't want to take that 50-mile journey back.

review by
Jamie O'Brien

8 May 2010

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