Globetrotting ukulele star Jake Shimabukuro continues to display his mastery of the instrument with Travels, his first studio LP since 2012’s unlikely Alan Parsons/Kip Winger collaboration, Grand Ukulele. Where that album rolled and swelled with lush orchestrations, Travels offers a wider variety of Shimabukuro’s different musical styles. A mix of thoughtful, classically minded original pieces, warm-hearted island tunes from his native Hawaii, and the oddball pop covers that initially launched him into the YouTube-assisted international spotlight, Travels eschews dramatic orchestrations in favor of a tight rhythm section on many of its tracks. As entertaining as it is to hear him pick his way through War’s funky “Low Rider” (complete with vocals) or the Jackson 5 ballad “I’ll Be There,” Shimabukuro is still at his best nimbly working his way through more subtle fare like the gentle island favorite “Hi’ilawe,” the three-part “Departure Suite,” and the two dreamy “Interlude” numbers.
Departure Suite – Part I * Departure Suite – Parts II & III * Dinner & a Movie * Everything Is Better with You * Haven’t We Been Here Before? * Hi’ilawe * I’ll Be There * Ichigo Ichie * Interlude 1 * Interlude 2 * Kawika * Low Rider * Oama * Passport * Red-Eye * Train Ride * Travels.