From the Label
Jim West is a Los Angeles musician who happily found his way to Hana. In that tranquil, isolated Maui community, he discovered the heart of Hawaii and it's ki ho 'alu (slack-key guitar) stylings. His debut CD is the result of that blessed romance. Most of the selections convey a mellow manner reflective of the unassuming Hana lifestyle.
And the wonderful thing about any ki ho 'alu tune is how much it communicates, despite the lack of lyrics. "Ulapalakua Sunset", for example, paints a picture of forthcoming twilight from upcountry-with subtleties like gentle wind, rustling branches and take-off-the-shoes informality.
"Coconut Hat", the title cut, suggests a hat-maker weaving his fronds, then selling his wares to tourists-or perhaps a simple sunny day with the head shielded from the sun.
"Holoholo Helen Style" depicts a spunky auntie on her merry way-at least in his nimble guitar fingerings.
West says his influences were the likes of Gabby Pahinui,the Sunday Manoa and Sons of Hawaii-pioneers, indeed-and his embrace of slack key is reassuring evidence of its impact among those who play and perpetuate Island music.
For fellow slackers, West provides tuning notes in his liner, for the rest of us, a quick listen is a satisfying lesson in the art of strumming with slack tunings.
A tip of my coconut hat to West.