20 Music Albums from Shawn Colvin, 123 Andrés, & More | ClefNotes

Twenty new reviews of CDs for children, including titles by Sara Lovell, Smilin' Ryan, & Papa Siama and Auntie Dallas.

Back to School. Performed by Michael & Jello. CD. Approx. 52 min. Monkey Business Creative Services. 2018. $10. 
PreS-Gr 3–This sixth studio album from the Canadian performers is billed as highly contemporary family pop music. Performed by early childhood educator and singer/songwriter Michael Anderson and a band of extremely talented musicians, many of the songs in this almost hour-long collection often have a mature jazz/R&B feel to them. Throughout the album, complex vocals convey original lyrics about spring and going back to school while new variations of traditional songs such as “Chocolaté,” “A Peanut Sat on a Railway Track,” and “Bird Scarf Dance” are performed. Also covered are Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game,” Bob Schneider’s “Listen to the Water” and the Ghanaian chant “Obwisana.” All songs are backed by instrumentals that highlight various brass, flute, and percussion solos. VERDICT While some sophisticated juvenile listeners will enjoy this collection, it will have more appeal for adults.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

Camp Andyland. Performed by Andy Z. CD. Approx. 34 min. A2Z Productions. 2018. $14.98. 
K-Gr 5–Andreas Zamenes (aka Andy Z) presents 12 original and four traditional songs for his seventh album. The musicians perform in a variety of musical styles, including rock, classic rock, folk, pop, and bluegrass; and include silly character voices and sound effects, such as chirping birds. An enthusiastic children’s chorus joins in on some of the songs. Original selections include “Welcome to Andyland,” “I Went to a Party with Dinosaurs,” “Drink More Water,” “Camping Song,” “Galaxy Song,” “Spring Has Sprung,” and “I Love You Because You’re You.” The traditional entries include “Pirate Song” (with movements), “Sticky Bubble Gum,” and “Row Your Boat.” Como C. Llama sings “La araña pequeñita” (“The Itsy Bitsy Spider”) in Spanish and English. “Farewell to Andyland” is a reprise of the welcome song. VERDICT These fun and lively songs will have young listeners wishing they were at Camp Andyland.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library, TX

High Five! Performed by Laura Doherty. CD. 27 min. Laura Doherty Music. 2018. $15. 
PreS-Gr 3– Chicago-based kindie musician Doherty’s fifth album for children is filled with her signature upbeat folk-pop style. Each of the 10 original songs in this collection tells its own story, drawing listeners in with topics like making a new friend, going back to school after summer vacation, and playing hide and seek. Doherty’s choices for background instruments allow her lovely vocals, as well as those of guests like Justin Roberts, to shine. Songs like “Lucky Charm” are slower and conducive to easy listening, while those like the title tune, “High Five,” encourages children to count to five while trying out a variety of dances. Listeners will also be challenged to get moving with “Pasta Noodles,” which gets kids clapping and dancing to varying tempos, and “Muddy Puddles,” which invites little ones to jump around. VERDICT Featuring relatable subjects and a short run time, this is a perfect addition to family listening and storytimes.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

I Am 4, 5, 6. Performed by Margot Bevington. CD. 40 min. In and Out of the Clouds/CDBaby. 2018. $12.97. 
PreS-Gr 1–The Maryland-based singer is a fresh voice for the preschool set. Her second album of a dozen original tunes will especially appeal to this age group, particularly the title cut. Song topics range from using your imagination (“From Here to There” and “I Saw a Fairy”) to curiosity (“Sense to Me,” “Make-Believe Zoo,” “Invent”) to relating to others (“Storytime” and “Can I Play Too?,” a duet with John Cullimore). Youngsters will particularly enjoy “S-Superhero,” a new ABC song, and “Recycle It with Heart,” which pops when a choir of children join Bevington to encourage everyone to make art with recycled materials. Bevington’s delicate voice is light and very pleasing. Her deceptively simple, haunting tunes are accompanied very simply, sometimes with harp or drum, other times with piano or bass. She makes excellent use of tight harmonies; they add interest and depth. VERDICT An addictive listen that will have kids and parents alike say, “Again!”–Stephanie Bange, Dayton, OH

It’s You I Like. Kari Thomas Kovick. CD. 51 min. Heart of the Child Music. 2017. $14.95. 
PreS-Gr 3–
A splendiferous debut album! This collection of 18 songs includes 13 covers of works by the likes of Woody Guthrie (“Howdjadoo,” the album’s folksy, upbeat opening ditty), Anna Lee Scully (“I Can Listen to Myself,” a charming adult-child unison duet about self-esteem), Patty Gille (“Red, Yellow, Orange and Brown,” a haunting tune featuring violin and a kids chorus), Fred Rogers (“It’s You I Like,” beautifully sung ballad accompanied by piano), Tom Hunter (“As I Went Walking in the Woods Today,” a folksy cumulative song), Peter Alsop (“My Body,” an a capella number sung with a chorus of kids, adults harmonizing, and plenty of body sounds and whistles), Smith Street Society Jazz Band (“The Bear Missing the Train,” a jazzy story piece), and Bonnie Lockhart (“When I Feel Mad,” a fully charged rock & roll production). Artist/educator Kovick’s original ballads also hold up well. Musical arrangements and musicians are spot-on. A joyful and fun production. VERDICT Filled with the kinds of song lyrics that speak to kids and parents alike and inspire singing along, this is a great one to listen to while riding in the car.–Stephanie Bange, Dayton, OH

Kitten Kaboodle. Performed by The Cat’s Pajamas. CD. Approx. 34 min. Howlin Records. 2018. $15. 
PreS-Gr 3– 
The Cat’s Pajamas (Janet Schreiner, Heath Allen, Emily Bate, Bob Beach, Michael Beeson, Ben Diamond, Martha Stuckey, Vince Tampio, and Rodney Whittenberg) perform 10 joyous tunes celebrating play, wonder, and fun. These wonderful musicians perform flawlessly on guitar, electric bass, banjo, keyboards, piano, upright bass, saxophone, clarinet, flute, trumpet, vuvuzela, tuba, accordion, harmonica, drums, and percussion. Their musical stylings include jazz, pop rock, polka waltz, sea shanty, and Dixieland jazz. “Grandma Moses” thinks she's sick, but the doctor orders a peppermint stick. “A Big Parade” introduces listeners to the tuba, drum, trumpet, and clarinet. Several well-known children’s book characters appear in “The Library Song.” The band covers Saxie Dowell’s 1939 hit song “Three Little Fishies,” who swim over the dam. “Chicken A La Cat” segues into the traditional “All Around the Kitchen” with additional lyrics by the Band. The other songs include “Jellyman Kelly” (cover of a James Taylor song), “One Bad Wolf,” “The Pirate Song” (cover of a Bill Harley song), “Waltzing with Bears,” and “The Bellybutton Song.” VERDICT A fabulous listening experience for the whole family.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library, TX

La Luna. Performed by 123 Andrés. CD. 38 min. Salsana Records. 2018. $15. 
PreS-Gr 2–
A beautiful collection that takes listeners on an imaginary trip to South America. In this outing, husband-and-wife duo Andrés Salguero and Christina Sanabria put together a well-considered combination of originals, traditional tunes, and songs from young composers. Eleven of the 12 selections are performed in Spanish and cover topics, such as counting from one blanket to 10 hugs, the various ways the moon is perceived, the different animals and habitats saying good night, and the end of busy days for children, like one young boy who dreams of being a pirate who collects words. Chicago kindie artist Little Miss Ann joins in on the 12th song, a bilingual arrangement of her “Fly, Shine, Soar.” 123 Andrés is joined by a fantastic group of musicians and vocalists, including Mariana Baraj and 3 y Cuatro, to create this gorgeous new album. VERDICT For both Spanish and non-Spanish speakers, La Luna is the perfect accompaniment to those quiet times of the day.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

Land of Yangalele. Performed by Papa Siama and Auntie Dallas. CD. Approx. 33 min. BMI. 2018. $9.49. 
PreS-Gr 5–
A native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, “Papa Siama” Matuzungidi has spent the last 20 years bringing global roots music to Minnesota. With this collection, he and “Auntie Dallas” Johnson bring the Congolese tradition of sharing songs and stories after dinner to a new generation. The eight songs (and two short chants) gathered here each have their own flavor; feature traditional instruments, such as the mbira and balafon; and are performed in a combination of English, Swahili, Lingala, and Kikongo. The gorgeous, rich vocals of Papa Siama and Auntie Dallas draw listeners into the lyrics of each selection, inviting them to sing along. The songs vary in tempo, from the spritely “Monkey Game” to the beautiful “Sweet Water,” which highlights Papa Siama’s talent on the guitar. Whether the theme is the power to learn, the joy of peace and freedom, or the simple pleasure of making a song, each track will delight and inspire children and parents alike. VERDICT A must-have not just for world music collections, but all children’s music collections.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

Library Adventure. Performed by Bay Song. CD. 51 min. Keenan Literacy & Learning/CD Baby. 2018. $12.95. 
PreS-Gr 4–
The third recording by duo John H. Keenan and Jo-Anne R. Wilson-Keenan has 14 original tunes and two original stories and focuses on libraries and literacy. Most songs have a laid-back, passive vibe with a modicum of variety provided by using musical styles, such as ballad (“Let’s Read a Story” celebrates the idea of an adult and child reading a book together; “Reading in the Summer” expresses the fun that can be had reading out of doors. “All Write!” suggests activities to write about while sitting in a library), soft rock (“What You Read Today” encourages children to discuss what they are reading), blues (“Have to Have a Plan” lays out how to be information literate), and Latin-influenced (“Words Are Around Us” focuses on word recognition). Arrangements are simple, with minimal instrumentation accompanying Keenan’s warm baritone and Wilson-Keenan’s light soprano. The recording closes with two original stories based on two songs about therapy dogs. Unfortunately, the stilted readings contain wet mouth sounds and audible breaths. The intent of this recording is admirable, however the overall bland effect and the at-times preachy-sounding messages contained may turn off listeners. VERDICT While libraries may find this recording useful in small doses, families will probably find this skippable.–Stephanie Bange, Dayton, OH

Lullapop Lullabies. Performed by various artists. CD. Approx. 56 min. Razor & Tie. 2018. $7.99. 
PreS-Gr 2–
Compiled with millennial parents in mind, these 21 lullabies are gentle, slow arrangements of chart-topping songs from Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Adele, Sia, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Drake, and more. All of the pieces are instrumentals, performed with glockenspiel, harp, and piano. No musicians are given credit for the musical performances. The playlist includes “Despacito,” “Shape of You,” “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” “Let Me Love You,” “That’s What I Like,” “Cheap Thrills,” “Rockabye,” “Cake by the Ocean,” “Black Beatles,” “24K Magic,” “Closer,” “Hotline Bling,” “Sorry,” “This Is What You Came For,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Stay,” “What Do You Mean,” “Hello,” “Don’t Wanna Know,” “Love on the Brain,” and “Watch Me.” VERDICT These soothing songs will lull little ones to dreamland.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library, TX

More Songs for Curious Kids. Performed by Dorothy Cresswell and Katie Tolles. CD. Approx. 51 min. Dorothy Cresswell. 2017. $12.97. 
PreS-Gr 3–
Cresswell and Tolles present 20 original songs in simple folk-style tunes and one rap, backed up by lovely performances on guitar, flute, and bass. The vocals are smooth and sweet, and several songs feature some lovely harmonies. A couple of the songs feature participatory movement, and the songs stress kindness and friendship. Song titles include “Pelican Pilot,” “Mary Manatee,” “Syrup in Space,” “Bardsley Cat,” “Kindness Cat,” “The Kindness March,” “Two Little Juncos,” “Exercise Rap,” “Spiral Dance,” “Swift River Paddling Song,” “Love and Laughter,” “Navigating Friendship,” “Can I Help,” “Surprised” “Something’s Calling,” “What Makes a Person a Person,” “The Human Spirit,” “Dreams, Dreams,” “Home’s the Place,” and “Deepest Longing.” VERDICT A gentle, soothing album.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library, TX

Moving to the ABCs. Performed by Jammin’ Randy. CD. Approx. 74 min. Randy Sauer. Dist. by CDBaby. 2015. Download $9.99. 
PreS-Gr K–
Randy Sauer, aka Jammin’ Randy, performs 26 songs in a variety of musical styles, including rap, beach rock, rock, pop, march, jazz, calypso, and bluegrass. Most of these lively tunes feature participatory movements. Each song begins with a different letter of the alphabet, and they are in alphabetical order. “Rusty the Robot Gets Fit” features a robot-style voice. “Xylophone Joan” features xylophone riffs. The “Egg Shaker Dance” is accompanied only by a bass beat. A few of the other selections include “Awesome Alphabet Rap” (with vocals by Jonathan Flores), “Beach Ball Party,” “Dig into Reading,” “Freddie the Fish,” “Instrument March,” “Milkshake Lake,” “Squishy Squishy Flip Flops,” “Tambourine Star,” and “Zany Zebra.” VERDICT These fun songs will have listeners up and moving.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library, TX

The Spaceship That Fell in My Backyard. Performed by Ruth Weber and Emilia Lopez-Yañez. CD. 31 min. Baa Baa Farms Music. 2018. $10.99. 
K-Gr 3–When a spaceship falls in her backyard, a human child, Emilia, befriends an ET named URR, from the planet Goopda-manet. After they introduce themselves to each other, URR (who fortunately speaks English) changes her voice modulator to sound more human. Then they spend the rest of the day together learning to work together and making the world a better place. At the end, Emilia joins URR in her spaceship and they take off for more adventures. The vocal and instrumental performances are excellent, including guitars, upright bass, brass, keyboard, strings, ukulele, whistles, and drums; in rock, pop, country, jazz, and funk musical styles. Song titles include “Where Do I Live,” “We’re Gonna Be Legendary,” “This Is the Way It Should Be,” “Repair the World,” “Everything Is Better with Some Bubbles,” “I’m Smart on Safety,” “Can’t Janet Come and Play,” “Dancing in Our PJs,” and “Just Inside This Classroom.” VERDICT These rollicking, bouncy songs will encourage listeners to do what they can to make their corner of the world a better place.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library, TX

Spaghetti Eddie! And Other Children’s Songs, Vol. 5. Performed by Brendan Parker and Erick Alexander.CD. 29 min. Brendan Parker Music/AV Cafe. 2018. $12. 
PreS-Gr 1–Parker and Alexander show they are growing as a musical duo with each album they record. On their fifth recording for kids, they tackle concepts that are a little more abstract than on previous productions. Opening with “Wake Up!” (a terrific upbeat song to rise and shine to, with clever lyrics), Parker composed and wrote lyrics for these 11 original songs that cover concepts, such as how and why we put things away (“Organized”), things you can find if you get up and go out (“Let’s Go Explore”), the frustrations that can come when learning how to do something (“Whistle”), and how to bolster up your friend who feels down and out (“Here for You”). The overall tenor of the recording is a solid mix of upbeat pop tunes and ballads. Syncopation and a tad of hip-hop add variety. Alexander does an outstanding job of producing by filling most songs with percussion and tight harmonies yet he judiciously leaves songs like “Happy” stripped and beautiful. One number not to miss is about their new superhero creation, “Danger Dog!” VERDICT Another winner from this dynamic duo filled with lively, fun songs.–Stephanie Bange, Dayton, OH

The Starlighter. Performed by Shawn Colvin. CD. 40 min. SLCRecordings/Amazon. 2018. $12.99. 
PreS-K–
Colvin spins her folk music magic on 14 of the 48 poems from Lullabies and Night Songs, a book of folk songs and nursery rhymes. Standouts include “The Starlighter” by Arthur Guiterman, which highlights Colvin’s warm, deep vocal range as she croons the syncopated rhythms of the song; “Raisins and Almonds” (a lullaby by Abraham Goldfaden) and “Minnie and Winnie” (poem by Alfred Tennyson) feature an accordion in the accompaniment, adding a lushness to the musical texture; and “The Huntsman” (poem by Walter de la Mare), which uses a hammered dulcimer to give the feeling of grandeur and vastness from days gone by. A couple of the traditional lullabies (“Go Tell Aunt Rhody” and “Bobby Shaftoe”) feature Colvin’s voice with a jarring, edgy texture to it, making them less polished than the rest. While the overall effect of recording is calm, lush and beautiful—these are lullabies, after all—most of the songs are similar. VERDICT Libraries looking to expand their collections of lullaby recordings might find this intriguing to add, but it is not an essential purchase.–Stephanie Bange, Dayton, OH

Thank You for Singing Along. Performed by Smilin’ Ryan. CD. Approx. 34 min. CDBaby. 2017. $12.99. Download $9.99. 
PreS-Gr 2–
The Canadian singer and an enthusiastic children’s chorus perform 15 rollicking, lively songs in rock, rap, folk, mariachi, bluegrass, pop, opera, and gentle lullaby musical styles. The backup musicians present excellent performances on guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, organ, synthesizer, piano, violin, trumpet, saxophones, Theremin, whistles, and jaw harp. While in a national park, a Sturgeon Lake First Nation woman tells Ryan all about “Living with the Bison.” Parents will be all-too familiar with “The Pee Pee Dance.” “Fruit Party” extols the benefits of eating fruit. The “Zombie Parade,” in a sinister minor key, includes participatory movements. In “T-Rex & Friends,” the tyrannosaurus introduces himself and other dinosaurs in a deep bass voice. “Scrapes” are a badge of honor for those who play outdoors. The rest of the playlist includes “Best Birthday Ever,” “Biggie the Baby Basset Hound,” “Wiggly Tooth,” “In a Good Mood,” “Friends Forever,” “Chugga Chug Choo Choo,” “Little Friends,” “Puddles,” and “Thank You for Singing Along.” VERDICT The whole family will enjoy these catchy, fun and imaginative songs.–Beverly Wrigglesworth, San Antonio Public Library, TX

Tour Guide. Performed by Cheri Magill. CD. 31 min. Red Shoe Records. 2018. $12.97. 
All Ages–
Magill’s first album for families is a beautiful love letter to parenthood. Each of the 10 songs is expertly crafted to capture the moments, both big and small, of parenting. There are two types of songs gathered here—those that address the parent experience and those like, “Better” and “You Are Here,” which are sung from a parent to a child and cover topics like “Crazy” where the parent talks about how the beeping cars and kids' TV shows, “make me crazy, crazy about you.” Magill strikes a careful balance between upbeat tracks and those like the lovely “Unconditional,” which shares the love a mother has for her child. With a sound akin to that of Sara Bareilles, Magill’s solo voice blends perfectly with the musical arrangements, while the hooks in many of the songs will have listeners singing along. VERDICT While motherhood is the main topic of this album, anyone raising children will enjoy these songs packed with unconditional love.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

Tú Eres Mi Flor: Songs for Children. Performed by Elizabeth Mitchell and Suni Paz. CD. Approx. 36 min. Smithsonian Folkways. 2018. $16.98. 
PreS-Gr 3– 
American singer Mitchell has teamed with Argentinian Paz to record covers of 17 children’s songs originally sung in English. It should be noted that these are not translations, rather adaptations into Spanish. Opening with Raffi’s “Gracias mil / Thanks a Lot,” standout songs include “Hola / Hello” by Dan Zanes, “Tú eres mi sol / You Are My Sunshine” by Jimmy Davis, “Cantarás una canción / “You’ll Sing a Song and I’ll Sing a Song” by Ella Jenkins, “Tres pajaritos / Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley and “A todos en el mundo entero / To Everyone in All the World” by Pete Seeger. The recording also includes traditional songs such as “Rema rema rema el bote / Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “Paz como un río” / “Peace Like a River” and “Juan el Conejo / John the Rabbit.” Not to be missed are Paz singing her compositions “Abecedario / ABC Song” and “Amor y corazón / Love and Care.” Themes found in the selections include harmony, building bridges and compassion among people, and gratitude and kindness. Arrangements are simple yet effective. Dan Zanes and Sonia de los Santos add their voices in harmony on “Canta conmigo / Sing with Me” and “A todos en el mundo entero.” Extensive liner notes discuss each song, with its instrumentation, background notes, and English lyrics. VERDICT An essential purchase to use as teaching tool for youngsters learning Spanish and for family enjoyment.–Stephanie Bange, Dayton, OH

Wild Is Everywhere. Performed by Sara Lovell. CD. 44 min. Unbreakable Chord Music. 2018. $15. 
PreS-Gr 6– 
Berkeley-based Lovell delivers another outstanding listening experience. On her follow-up album to You’ve Got Me, Lovell infuses each of the 14 original songs with a feeling of having “been there.” Standouts include entries about worrying about the dark (“Rhinoceros Under the Bed,” a funky, bluesy riff on the monster that everyone knows is under the bed or just around the corner), complaining about the unfairness of life (“All the Grownups Get to Stay Up Late,” a haunting, dark tune with the bass keeping the best and the piano adding sparkling lightness), songs that scream for a reaction (“Bounce,” a bluesy funky selection about joy in dancing; “Stand Together,” a cool number about taking care of one another; “How to Love Yourself,” a torch song about self-esteem), and tunes just for fun (“Raspberry Pickleberry Wormnut Pie,” a funky, folksy duet that features a fiddle and banjo; “What Color Is the Sunshine,” a ballad with lush vocals, harmonies, and accompaniment). Lovell’s vocals can be light and airy (“Wild Is Everywhere”) or whispery and mysterious (“The Dark Side of My Room”). Lyrics are imaginative, often spurring listeners to react, while accompanying musicians pluck (guitar, violin, bass) or pound (piano) their instruments on cue. VERDICT Smart, relevant lyrics, infectious melodies, tight harmonies, and luscious arrangements make this joy-filled album a must-listen experience for families.–Stephanie Bange, Dayton, OH

Zoom a Little Zoom!: A Ride Through Science. Performed by Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer. CD. 30 min. Community Music. 2018. $14.99. 
K-Gr 5
–Two-time Grammy winners Fink and Marxer return with their 35th album collaboration. Using 10 songs written by Hy Zaret, composed by Lou Singer, and released in 1961 as part of the educational collection Ballads for the Age of Science, Fink and Marxer create contemporary arrangements that showcase their own special sound. Each song covers a different scientific topic, including what makes lightning, the constellations, insects, and gravity. The Western group Riders in the Sky join in for “Why Does the Sun Shine?” while Justin Roberts gets in on the action on “Snowflake, Snowflake.” Aficianados on a variety of stringed instruments, Fink and Marxer showcase that knowledge on the song “Vibration.” Each has a lovely voice on her own, but Fink and Marxer are at their very best when they combine their voices on tunes like the title song, “Zoom a Little Zoom (Rocket Ship).” VERDICT With its STEM theme, this album is the perfect addition to storytimes and classroom conversations.–Veronica De Fazio, Plainfield Public Library District, IL

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