Brittni Paiva is constantly going somewhere. With each album she releases, a new journey begins and moves to new heights. It’s no different with this new project.
Produced by Tom Scott, Tell U What has a totally different sound and feel than Brittni’s previous albums. It’s more polished and mainstream. Brittni ventures into new genres with this album and features several incredible guest artists like Michael McDonald and Ray Parker Jr. “Brittni the star” takes a backseat to “Brittni the complimentary ukulele player.” While Brittni is featured and it is obviously her album you are listening to, for this project she lets other artists share the spotlight in places. For example, besides the main guest artists, there are a lot of great saxophone solos played by Tom Scott that give the feel that the whole band is featured.
There are 11 tracks on Tell U What, three of them Paiva originals.
Tell U What‘s title track starts off with the grooviest driving bass line I’ve heard in a long time. It slowly builds with the ukulele playing just the lead the first time around and then the second time around sax harmonizes the line making it really sweet. From the first few notes you can hear the improvement in production. All the tracks are spread far and evenly around the pan spectrum and it’s fun to listen to it on headphones to hear the details.
Next up is a very smooth jazzy tune, I Keep Forgettin’, with Mr. McDonald singing lead. What a voice! Just when you think the song is going to stay with the same lounge feel the whole way through it changes into a major key breakdown and Brittni’s chorused, Mike Stern-reminiscent ukulele breaks through to play some licks.
Friends – Brittni’s second original on the album – has a familiar sound that makes me recall her earlier work. It has a great melody and laid back feel that still has a driving groove behind it – something you might hear from George Benson like Breezin’.
Comin’ Home Baby features the snarly guitar work of Ray Parker Jr. With horns and pentatonic riffs throughout I am reminded of one of Jake Shimabukuro’s early “Toastman” songs. Brittni’s ukulele sounds better however!
I love good reggae. It’s so overdone here in Hawai’i that you don’t get much that is really unique, but Brittni’s take on The Lochs of Dread by Bela Fleck is stunning. This is by far one of my favorites on Tell U What. Even through the funky timing the groove remains solid. I think I might have to learn this one.
The remainder of the album is mostly mellow jazz tunes that Brittni grooves her way through. Her feel on the ukulele has developed well over the years and everything she plays sounds natural and effortless.
Besides a fairly awful album cover (that’s the only bad thing I’ve got to say about this project!), Brittni once again creates some incredible music and journeys to new dimensions with her trusty ukulele. A+.