The amazing young Hawaiian musician who has turned the lowly ukulele into a virtuoso multi-genre instrument is back again. This time with a cast of dozens and the soundtrack to an independent Japanese film titled Hula Girls. It became Japan’s No. 1 film with a true story about a crazy plan to save a struggling coal-mining town in the north of Japan by developing a “Hawaiian Paradise” for tourists. The problem is the locale is cold and without palm trees and nobody knows how to dance the hula. An instructor is brought in from Tokyo and she trains the coal-miners’ daughters, giving the town a new lease on life.
This is not your typical Hawaiian music, thank goodness. It ranges widely without settling entirely on one genre or another. All the tunes but one are by Jake, and they are scored for his uke plus piano, guitar and string quartet. Vocalist Jennifer Perri is heard on two tracks and the lyrics are surprisingly in English. The closing version of the title tune, Hula Girl, is in Japanese. The quieter tunes are quite lovely and the tender lyrical lines on the ukulele probably fit the more emotional scenes of the film very well.
TrackList: On the Road, Walking Down Rainhill, The Dance, Touch (alternate take), Hawaiian Eyes, Opening Day, Hula Girl, Heartbeat (two versions), Touch, Hula Girl (acoustic version), Local Boys, Walking Down Rainhill (alternate take), Wish On My Star, Graduation, Hula Girl.
– John Henry