If you're looking for the perfect, well-needed tropical island escape without getting on a plane to get there, then look no further than The Isle of Forgotten Dreams, the enchanting and cinematic new album from Nashville-based duo Hula Hi-Fi. Comprised of producer and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaler (Frances Cone, Butch Walker) and singer-songwriter Danica Dora (songs featured on everything from Sesame Street to Netflix dramas), Hula Hi-Fi introduced the world to their unique brand of music they call 'Hawaiian Noir' with their 2017 debut album (Hawaiian Noir, Volume One), on which they presented gorgeous covers from a diverse range of artists that included Chris Isaak ("Wicked Game"), Björk ("Human Behaviour"), Nirvana ("In Bloom"), Tears for Fears ("Head Over Heels") and The Cars ("Drive"), among others.
Three years in the making, The Isle of Forgotten Dreams might be considered Hula Hi-Fi's proper debut, with its eleven original compositions. Think "aloha meets howdy" as you sit back, relax and take in this cinematic sonic masterpiece that cleverly incorporates traditional Polynesian sounds of ukulele and percussion, juxtaposed with lap steel guitar, upright bass, harp, piano and other electronic elements. Oh, and did I mention the lush string arrangements of the world-renowned Brno Philharmonic Orchestra of the Czech Republic? Yes - the band composed some stunning arrangements that were brought to life and recorded by the orchestra during 2019. Danica and Josh's mesmerizing, dreamlike and mysterious vocals represent the gorgeous, delicate tropical flowers that embellish this Hawaiian noir musical journey.
The more I listen to The Isle of Forgotten Dreams, the more I believe it paints an overnight excursion to a distant tropical island, given that the opening track is titled "Tropicali Sunset" and closing track is "Tropicali Sunrise." The late-night, moonlit musical luau of The Isle of Forgotten Dreams is glittered with lush, exotic treasures like "Crooked Hearts," "Waterworn," "Archipelagos," "Valentine" and "The Isle of Forgotten Dreams," to name just a few. This is an album that's meant to be experienced in its entirety from start to finish, where each song has carefully been placed within the album's musical tapestry.
The band has released two official music videos for the album's two singles to date. The mysterious "Crooked Hearts" was shot and edited by Casey Pierce. "Waterworn" nicely presents each of the song's musical elements in a Zoom-like setting that we've become accustomed to in this pandemic-like existence.
Last, but not least, for the full The Isle of Forgotten Dreams experience, I strongly encourage you to make the band's very own "Crooked Heart Daquiri" to accompany you along your listening journey. Danica and Josh give you the step-by-step in a handly little YouTube video (see below). I've hade one (OK, two) of these cocktails as I've been listening to The Isle of Forgotten Dreams and writing this post. It's delicious and worth the effort!