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TBTS Reviews: Jake Shimabukuro – Peace Love Ukulele 

January 9, 2011

If you are looking to relive your last Hawaiian vacation, or are just wondering what one would sound like, Peace Love Ukulele from Jake Shimabukuro is a fair approximation of what might be played over the Honolulu airport speakers or in the lobby of your seaside hotel. As you probably already know, the ukulele is Hawaii’s trademark music maker. Hearing the instrument played automatically initiates a recall of images from the island chain, its people and its rich cultural heritage.

Listening to Peace Love Ukulele did not convey the immersive Polynesian experience I was hoping for. Shimabukuro is a consummate player and technically takes the instrument to new heights, showing how much is possible with an instrument many still consider no more than a toy. But through his skill, the inherent limitations of the ukulele are starkly revealed. Most of Peace sounds like classical guitar shorthand. There are some highlights, “Bring Your Adz” being one of them, but a few good tracks are just not enough. Two major shortcomings of the disk are its covers. Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” (included in both studio and live versions) is too deep and complex of a piece for the simple ukulele to translate fully. I’ve got to give the guy props for trying though. His arrangement of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is almost unrecognizable in parts and falls short as well.

Peace Love Ukulele has a childlike innocence and an almost music box like quality that will no doubt appeal to some listeners, so for that alone it has value. In that context, it is a great children’s album. Maybe they should have taken that path all along. Who knows? It may still lead them to greater success.

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One Comment
  1. what??? permalink
    March 11, 2011 7:26 pm

    A great Children’s album???? you need to stop smoking all that brown tweed and open up your ears!!!!

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