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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
Other reviews from The Sounding Board by R J Lannan:
  Perspective by Helen Jane Long, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 7/18/2018
  Every Moment by Joseph L Young, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 7/18/2018
  Mosaic by David Wahler, reviewed by RJ Lannan on 6/20/2018
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Rainbow Road
By Nancy Shoop-Wu
Label: Lei Hoku Music
Released 1/27/2017
Rainbow Road tracks
1. Rainbow Road
2. Pulelehua (Mountain Butterfly)
3. Lei Hoku (Star of Love)
4. Sunrise Over Haleiwa
5. Always in My Heart
6. Lullaby
7. Waimanalo
8. Carry Me Home
9. Beautiful Mana'o
10. In Your Eyes
11. Ma'noa Rain
12. Lele Noa (Flying Free)
Lele aku, lele aku ak hale*
What a wonderful thing it is when a classical trained musician crosses over into contemporary music. They seem to have that solid foundation to turn any song into a sound of perfection. Such is the case of Nancy Shoop-Wu from Hawaii. She was originally from Connecticut, but like many, myself included, she was captured and overawed by the magic that is Hawaii. Using her vast experience as a violinist for a number of major orchestras, she channeled her love of Hawaii and her song writing skills to produce Rainbow Road. The album is twelve tracks of contemporary music featuring light ensemble and her fantastic lead violin. The cuts have slack key guitar, piano, bass and drums galore. There is a purity and richness to her sound. Her violin sings with a passionate voice, reflecting her love and respect for the Rainbow State.

Rainbow Road, the title cut, imbues the Aloha spirit that sparkles with liquid sunshine as the locals call it. There is also warmth from the sun, a salty tang from the blue Pacific and the brightness of a million smiles. Just as it was told in ancient texts, the rainbow is a promise. Nancy's rendition is also a promise to honor the land and people and never forget that the volcanic landscape is to be cherished as if there never will be another Hawaii.

Pulelehua means mountain butterfly in Hawaiian and the violin lead does flitter about in a cheerful tune. However, pulelehua also means "going where the winds goes" and I like that connotation as well. There is a sense of freedom in the notes, a happy independence at that. The trade winds are more than kind.

One of the hidden gems on the island of Oahu is the place called Waimanalo. Waimanalo is a valley of green bordered by white sand beaches and beryl blue oceans. Nancy's tune fairly cries over the splendor of the area in south eastern Oahu.

History is alive and well in the old town called Haleiwa. Sunrise Over Haleiwa conjures up that first pale light as the sun peeks over the horizon. Although surfing in the main pastime today, the true beauty of the North Shore is something to see. It had a beginning in plantations, railroads and fancy hotels. What better place to consider the Rainbow Road but in a place known for the Rainbow Bridge. Perhaps this is where it all started for Nancy.

Of the twelve tracks, four are from a previous EP release and I am glad that Nancy shares them with us. Ma'noa Rain has a slack key guitar ambiance that truly embraces the spirit of Aloha. Nancy's violin sings of the way of life that embodies mercy, compassion, kindness and above all, love.

My favorite song on Rainbow Road is called Beautiful Mana'o. It reminded me of the song Edelweiss from the Sound of Music. It had that nostalgic quality that creates daydreams and memories. Mana'o translates from Hawaiian as thoughts or opinions or as Nancy remarks, "to give of your spirit to another". When one lives in the land of inspiration, the thoughts can only be beautiful, for there is no other place that I have found where people respect the land and the planet stronger than this one. I personally cannot wait to hear her music when she introduces more islands.

Violinist Nancy Shoop-Wu has done a brilliant job of using the voice of her instrument to sing of the beauty that is found in Hawaii. Her compositions are strong, her instrumentation is solid and her emotion is genuine. Shoop-Wu no ka oi.

*Fly away, fly away home
Rating: Very Good   Very Good
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 5/26/2017
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