Singer-songwriter David Tamaoka finds God in almost everything.
Three years ago, when his wife was pregnant with their first child, he had a dream: “We had a boy and his name was going to be Pax, which means peace. And I took it as a sign from God,” he said. Tamaoka took a sip of coffee.
“And then we had a girl!”
He managed to find a quirky moniker for his daughter: Pennylane, named after both the Beatles song and his former band, in which he sang and played the electric bass. However the sign from God stuck and in January Paxton Jude Tamaoka — his middle name inspired by “Hey Jude,” another Beatles song — was born. Eight days after his birth, Tamaoka, sitting outside of the Starbucks in Aiea shopping center, was beaming. “I haven’t slept in weeks but it’s wonderful,” he said. “I’m way more prepared than the first time around.”
God also has an odd way of finding Tamaoka. If you pop his debut LP, Canefield Hero, into iTunes, the program categorizes the eight, largely acoustic pop songs as “Gospel & Religious” — a misnomer that catches the Moanalua high school graduate off guard.“It’s not really intended to be in that genre so I don’t know how that happened,” Tamaoka, a youth pastor at Faith Christian Fellowship, said. “If you mean religion in terms of expressing a point of view, how do you ever separate a person from their point of view? I guess my faith is inherent to me. So everything I do that comes out will somehow be touched by that,” he said.
Canefield Hero, which was released in October by Mix808, is a radical departure from Tamaoka’s last project, PennyLane, a Kaua‘i-based quartet that split in 2005. Syrupy lyrics and serene melodies take the place of the heavy guitars that thrashed on PennyLane songs like “Violent Remedy,” reminiscent of something you’d hear while shopping for a studded collar at Hot Topic. Instead, Canefield Hero takes cues from Jason Mraz and Dashboard Confessional, with Tamaoka’s lithe vocals sliding sweetly through refined pop productions about love and love-lost, all of which he’s had a hand in writing. In short, Tamaoka has settled down.