Album Reviews

Jake Shimabukuro

Nashville Sessions

Artist:     Jake Shimabukuro

Album:     Nashville Sessions

Label:     JS Records

Release Date:     09/23/2016

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Jake Shimabukuro’s latest album, Nashville Sessions, is a bold mixture of energy, up-tempo jams and original polyrhythmic songs. Shimabukuro is known as a ukulele virtuoso, and his passion and skill shine through the 11 tracks that give life to Nashville Sessions. Interestingly, the development and recording of the album took place in a matter of six days in a studio in Nashville, where Shimabukuro was inspired to approach the process with an open-ended creative approach. Shimabukuro also collaborated with two other Nashville musicians on the album, bassist Nolan Verner and drummer Evan Hutchins. The clever combination of instruments and sounds, such as the use of steel drums along with Shimabukuro’s Kamaka tenor, baritone and soprano ukulele infuse songs like “Ballad” and “Blue Haiku” with twinkling accents, smooth and retro rhythms that at times explode into harshly ripping ukulele solos with a rock vibe. Among one of those powerful rock songs are “Man of Mud,” an energizing track that embodies the progressive rock sound of Nashville Sessions.

This is an album for all walks of music listeners, since its uplifting, electrifying energy captivates you from the very first song. As an entirely instrumental album, this work is representative of the ukulele’s playful and harmonious instrumental timbre. Shimabukuro is aware that as an instrument, the ukulele is often viewed as toy-like, feel good, playful instrument, yet this perspective has enabled him to be open and curious about different kinds of music styles and genres. These qualities are transmitted musically in Nashville Sessions, as Verner and Hutching’s bass and drums in conjunction with Shimabukuro’s ukulele dexterity give way to explosively buoyant songs.

-Tracy Montes

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