The maestro returns with the follow-up to his 2016 album Nashville Sessions. Featuring the same producer and rhythm section, The Greatest Day feels like something of an evolution for the 41-year-old Hawaiian megastar.
Joining bassist Nolan Verner and drummer Evan Hutchings this time around is guitarist Dave Preston, who adds another layer of complexity to proceedings.
“On the last record, it was pretty much the sound of a live trio, which sounded fresh, raw and organic,” says Shimabukuro. “Now we’ve expanded to a quartet, which has added more colours and variety to the overall production. Once we recorded the live takes, we experimented with overdubs and added horns, strings and keys and other funky sounds. There are even some vocals on a few cuts.”
Yep, vocals! Certainly something new to a Jake album.
Comprising six originals and six covers, the record, which was recorded at the famous Ronnie’s Place studio in Nashville, is quite diverse. The first cover, The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby, features world-renowned dobro player Jerry Douglas and works well as an instrumental. Other enjoyable covers include New Order’s Bizarre Love Triangle, which is rather soft and gentle but still retains an immediacy and electro feel, and Bill Withers’ Use Me, which stars Preston on guitar and vocals and funks things up a treat.
As for the originals, Straight A’s, inspired by the A string of the ukulele, is fun and playful and the addition of vibes is a nice touch. Meanwhile, Mahalo John Wayne is suitably cinematic and a fitting tribute to The Duke.
The digital edition of the album includes a live version of the Sunday Manoa classic Kawika, which sees Jake returning to his island roots, and Blue Roses Falling, which features Jake duetting with cellist Meena Cho and reminds us of the magic that can be created with the two instruments.
The Greatest Day is Shimabukuro’s riskiest record to date, but it’s also his most exciting because he’s taking those risks and finding new ways to make interesting music for his fans.
1.Time of the Season
2. The Greatest Day
3. Eleanor Rigby
5. Bizarre Love Triangle
6. Straight A’s
7. If 6 Was 9
8. Shape of You
9. Go for Broke
10. Little Echoes
11. Mahalo John Wayne
CD/VINYL BONUS TRACKS:
13. Use Me (feat. Dave Preston) (’18 Live)
14. Dragon (‘18 Live)
15. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (’18 Live)
DIGITAL BONUS TRACKS:
13. Kawika (’18 Live)
14. Blue Roses Falling (feat. Meena Cho) (’18 Live)
15. Use Me (feat. Dave Preston) (’18 Live)
16. Dragon (‘18 Live)
17. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (’18 Live)
Buy your copy of The Greatest Day here: jakeshimabukuro.com