Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
Facing Future


4.5
superb

Review

by Aaron CONTRIBUTOR (110 Reviews)
August 3rd, 2013 | 22 replies


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The essential soundtrack to Hawaii

I’m not sure if it’s even possible to accurately describe the effect Israel Kamakawiw’ole’s music had on me during my trip to Hawaii, but I have to try. Not only is his music incredibly soothing, but it’s a headfirst dive into the Hawaiian culture. The first thing the listener will notice when digesting his music is simply his genuine love and appreciation for the land. Perhaps none of his albums display this appreciation as well as his groundbreaking 1993 release, Facing Future. With its blend of traditional Hawaiian folk, and fantastic cover songs such as his groundbreaking version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ it’s not hard to see why it’s the best selling album of all time in Hawaii.

Unfortunately, Israel Kamakawiw’ole would meet his untimely death just a few short years after the release of this album, but his music will always live on and help capture that special feeling one can only get while walking along a white sandy beach in Hawaii. However, the album does much more than create a soundtrack for tropical weather. His lyrics encourage one to dig deeper into the background of Hawaii and its people, making it not only an album, but a journey.

Often referred to as “IZ”, the songs on Facing Future are brought to life by his downright beautiful voice and the gentle sounds of the Ukulele. Many tracks such as ‘Ka Huila Wai’ are upbeat, but simple tunes sung in Hawaiian, while others such as ’White Sandy Beach of Hawaii’ are easier to understand, but are just as effective in creating a relaxed island-like vibe. His cover of ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World’ has been used in countless films and is arguably the best version of the song due to his gorgeous vocal performance. There’s just something about his delivery that comes across as effortless, making each song as honest as it is beautiful.

The most important and memorable track on the album, however, is ‘Hawaii ‘78’ which acts as not only the album’s opener but its grand finale as well. Unlike some songs on the album, most of it is sung in English as IZ sings about the problems that continue to threaten their culture. During the ‘Hawaii ‘78’ introduction we hear IZ talk about his family and his background which does a spectacular job of connecting us with the artist, making the music that much more believable. Both versions of the song are great, but overall the song is strengthened by the mini-biography IZ lays down in the opening track.

Maybe one has to be there to experience his music the way it was intended, but there’s nothing quite like taking in the Hawaiian sun and listening to music by Israel Kamakawiw’ole. After hearing Facing Future I instantly gained more respect for the culture, and it even encouraged me to do more research. It’s as if there’s some kind of spirit that lives on throughout his music and I felt it every time I pressed the play button. I can’t guarantee his music will have such an impact on everyone, but for those looking to be transcended into a different world, Facing Future is the perfect place to start.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2013


19911 Comments


first review in a month hope the rust isn't already showing. can't really do this guy justice but he rocks check him out.

originally posted at http://meltingalbumreviews.com/2013/08/04/israel-kamakawiwoole-facing-future/

Here's some links for those who want to give it a shot.

Hawaii '78

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrbaN42tDFE

Ka Huila Wai

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fJ5rnN-pJg&list=PL4BAFAE0F17C53705

White sandy beach of hawaii

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoRpWEE-E0Q

Digging: Dornenreich - Freiheit

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2013


3440 Comments


I can only hope I'll get to Hawaii some day. Good review, you nicely mixed the descriptive parts with the actual feelings this record gave you while you were there.

I like the songs I've heard from him, but never gotten around to check one of his albums as a whole. I'll get this right away.

Digging: Mark Lanegan - Phantom Radio

manosg
August 3rd 2013


6249 Comments


I've already spotted the full album on YT and will most definitely listen to it.

Your review is excellent, you seem influenced by your trip in Hawaii.

Digging: Acrimony - Tumuli Shroomaroom

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2013


19911 Comments


@insomniac, thanks man i appreciate the compliment. I feel it's more enjoyable when heard in the proper setting, but definitely let me know what you think!

@manosg, thanks bro : ) yeah the whole experience of going to Hawaii was great but considering my love for music, this album remains one of the most memorable aspects of my trip.

Acanthus
August 3rd 2013


9543 Comments


Great album, really amazing voice.

Digging: The Knife - Deep Cuts

Hoppoman
August 3rd 2013


634 Comments


Adding this to my to obtain list.

ViperAces
August 3rd 2013


12466 Comments


sooooooooooooooooooommmmmmmmeee wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeee

HolidayKirk
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2013


1633 Comments


Props for reviewing an overlooked album.

Ecnalzen
August 3rd 2013


6684 Comments


I have seen this at work but always forget to look it up when I get home. I have only heard his version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow though.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2013


10269 Comments


Nice work man

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2013


19911 Comments


Thanks man!

@ecnalzen, I highly recommend checking some other songs out if you liked somewhere over the rainbow. If you do you'll have to let me know what u think

WashboardSuds
August 3rd 2013


5018 Comments


sweet

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2013


6253 Comments


Wow, fantastic review Atari. Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What A Wonderful World means a lot to me personally and I'm glad you mentioned it.

Digging: Porcupine Tree - In Absentia

cvlts
August 4th 2013


8967 Comments


brudda iz

Ecnalzen
August 4th 2013


6684 Comments


I will give it a listen in the next few days and let you know, Atari.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2013


19911 Comments


@JudioRuso, thanks man glad you liked it. That song is going to be personal to me as well considering it was played at my wedding which was another reason I decided to seek out the album in Hawaii.

@Ecnal, you better :P this needs more than 2 ratings lol

Ecnalzen
August 6th 2013


6684 Comments


Found a youtube stream! Woo hoo!

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 6th 2013


19911 Comments


hope you like it man :D

Ecnalzen
August 6th 2013


6684 Comments


Is it all in not english?

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 6th 2013


19911 Comments


it's about half and half. the ones sung in hawaiian rule though!



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