Jake Shimabukuro: “Island Fever Blues”
It’s hard to imagine such a simple instrument like the ukulele getting a make-over, but that’s just what Jake Shimabukuro is doing. With his virtuosic performances, the Hawaiian artist has changed the perception of his state’s main musical calling card over the past few years. This isn’t your granddad’s ukulele: Shimabukuro’s style recalls classical guitar more than the instrument–long considered a hobby for “serious” guitarists–would suggest.
That’s not to say Shimabukuro’s music is academic. He first raised his profile with a number of videos showcasing his favorite covers: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Thriller,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” all receive his particular stamp. Last year’s Peace, Love, Ukulele hit number one on Billboard’s World Albums chart, and his just-released follow-up Grand Ukulele should do the same. Shimabukuro tackles “Over The Rainbow” and Adele’s “Rolling In The Deep” with his unique sound.
But Shimabukuro also lends his own songwriting skill to the album with a handful of songs. “Island Fever Blues” shows off his instrument’s dynamics while uniting Japanese and blues melodies. The song moves quickly through a half-dozen styles, and no words are needed. Shimabukuro knows how make his emotional point with just four strings.