With the exception of some obscure psychedelic albums in the '60s, Peter Rowan's impressive catalogue of musical output has mostly centred around bluegrass, singing and playing with the likes of David Grisman, Jerry Douglas and Tony Rice. His latest offering, My Aloha! — a celebration of Hawaiian music — is a bit of a departure. Rowan penned all the songs on the album, but they capture that certain style of smooth Hawaiian music that early bluegrass pioneers might have heard on their radios.
With a crew of Hawaiian musicians — Douglas Po'oloa Tolentino (ukeleles), Jeff Au Hoy (acoustic and metal body slide guitars, bass), Kilin Reece (guitar, mandolin), and Uncle Mike Souza (electric bass) — Rowan croons his way through a series of soft, slow and mid-tempo songs that gently roll into one another. Most of the songs sound exactly the way you'd expect Hawaiian music to, but a couple stand out. In "My Aloha (Appalachian Mountain Home)," Rowan lyrically links the mountain music he's known for with the Pacific islands, and "Uncle Jimmy" tells the tale of Rowan's first instrument, a baritone ukelele his uncle brought him from New Caledonia.
Not everyone could pull off this sort of album, but Rowan's singing style has always had an ethereal quality to it, making it a perfect match for this sea-breezy material. Rowan fans will be glad to find him still hitting those impeccable high notes with each yodel. (Omnivore)