The album's title comes from Dobbyn's reflection what it is to be a New Zealander: "I've come to terms with the fact that I'm a Pacific Islander a long time ago. There's nothing vaguely European about me apart from the colour of my skin. So I've called it The Islander because it's a stamp of identity."
The album has been described as "quintessentially New Zealand" with Dobbyn at the peak of his talents. It is also noted as a culmination of the directness of his pub-rock DD Smash work and later rock albums, while 'Hallelujah Song' signals the start of his Christian influences in future releases.