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Dent May And His Ukulele: Winningly Winking

A crooning throwback to an era of music in which boy bands were likely to be wearing matching sweater-vests, Dent May produces an infectiously enjoyable sound with the help of His Magnificent Ukulele. May's first full-length album arrives in February, and it's full of winningly winking songs like "You Can't Force a Dance Party" and "God Loves You, Michael Chang."

A good-natured gem, "26 Miles (Santa Catalina)" finds May covering a chart-topping Four Preps song from 1958. The original group's perfect harmonies and lacquered haircuts fit nicely alongside May's bespectacled and dorkily clean-cut persona, as he captures the jubilance of the original with a new charm. His warbling voice and plinking melodies promote the joys of the island of Santa Catalina: "26 miles, so near yet far / I swim with some water wings and my guitar / I could lose the wings, but I need the guitar for romance." Supported by bopping bass and doo-wop backing singers, May gives the song a lush orchestral treatment, which helps it bob along on the warm waters toward sandy beaches and true happiness.

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Claire Blaustein
Claire Blaustein is a freelance writer and music critic who writes for a variety of publications, including The Washington Post, Exclaim! Magazine and La Scena Musicale. She came to NPR as a Performance Today intern in 2005, and has thus far refused to leave. When not doing any of the above, she writes in her blog, I Dig Music..., and pouts until someone gives her a new CD to play with.