Friday, July 29, 2005

Review: You Are My Sunshine - Elizabeth Mitchell

[Read the review of Mitchell's latest -- You Are My Little Bird -- here and more Elizabeth Mitchell news here]

I've talked before about Elizabeth Mitchell's first CD for kids, You Are My Flower. It's a great little CD. If there were any drawbacks to the CD, it was that it was too short (less than 25 minutes) and perhaps too "folk-y" for some tastes.

One her second CD, You Are My Sunshine, Mitchell says, "Hey, you, Mr. Daddy-Guy, I hear ya. I'm gonna make it longer and mix it up for you."

Uh, OK, she doesn't really say that. Or, at least, not that I'm aware of.

But her new CD is both longer and more diverse. And why wouldn't you want a longer CD when it includes great renditions of kids' songs traditional and un-? The alphabet song done in dub-reggae style. A Bo Diddley blues (sort of). Mitchell ups the young parent hipness quotient by covering both Sesame Street ("Ladybug Picnic") and Schoolhouse Rock ("3 Is The Magic Number"). And the covers of some traditional songs with religious backgrounds -- "So Glad I'm Here" and "Jubilee" -- make me happy every time I hear them. The first half of the CD is fairly varied in tempo; the second half is much more "folk" -- very mellow.

The CD is probably best for kids under age 6, but it's truly one of those albums you may find yourself putting on even when your kids aren't around. If you at all liked her first CD, you will like this one. If you've never heard Mitchell, I'd recommend this CD somewhat over the first one. If you hated her first CD, then I just don't know what to do with you. You probably shouldn't continue reading my reviews. The CD is available at the usual online suspects and at her website, You Are My Flower. Highly recommended.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Review: At the Bottom of the Sea - Ralph's World

With his first, self-titled Ralph's World album, Ralph Covert immediately set the standard for 21st century kids' music -- musically diverse and lyrically targeted at kids while winking at their parents.

It is not a criticism of his second kids' album, At the Bottom of the Sea, to say that it's just like the first CD, only more so. At the Bottom of the Sea is even more musically diverse than Ralph’s World, from the country stylings of “Honey for the Bears” to the faux-Beach Boys sound of “Surfin’ in My Imagination” to the pirate chanty “What Can You Do with Your Baby Brother?” The parents will probably bob their heads happily during the “Banana Splits” theme song; my wife especially appreciates “The Coffee Song,” which obviously bears the imprint of having been created waaay too early one morning (a wild guess on my part which Covert has confirmed in subsequent interviews). Even his rendition of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" has enough subtle humor to keep the parents amused while maintaining a simplistic approach to the song that will hold the attention of the very youngest.

Given that Covert’s daughter is probably a couple years older than when he wrote the songs on Ralph’s World, the songs on this album are targeted mostly at kids between 3 and 8. Covert's popularity means that if any non-Disney CD is to be found at a Best Buy, it's his; otherwise, the usual online suspects are the place to go.

If you liked Covert's other Ralph's World CDs, you'll like this one. Recommended.