Folk for Kidz from the Americas.
When it comes to Canadian children's music, my expectations are pretty high - after all most of our family's favourite English language kids music comes from there. In fact, every single childrens music CD from Canada that FolkWorld received has been a real hit - there was Oozakazoo from Toronto with their blend of country and bluegrass, The Funky Mamas with their great songs, Henry Godon with his high energy French Canadian kids music, and the most ingenious childrens' singer songwriter, Andrew Queen.
So can the Swinging Belles from Canada keep this promise with their latest album? Oh yes they can! With the ingenious album title "More sheep less sleep" , the album keeps the promise of great child friendly lyrics. You will hear why you better don't count sheep at night (they might nibble your hair - and they even snore!), what happens to all those lost odd socks, that there are friendly monsters out there and how Sally built a rocket and blast off.
Many songs are just fun, but the album starts and finishes with two songs with beautifully reaffirming lyircs -"Attitude of gratitude" and "I think you're great".
The Swinging Belles - Laura Winter and Erin Power - are great singers, and the musical sound of the album will appeal to young and old alike. To make the music really outstanding, Laura and Erin have teamed up with brilliant Canadian guitarist Duane Andrews whose solo albums of Jazz guitar have been celebrated in Folkworld. The music is an attractive high energy blend of bluegrass with great harmony singing and quality arrangements, featuring banjo, mandolin, ukulele, guitar, fiddle and percussion.
This is a highly appealing album for young kids and those old kids like me - another family favourite!
Moving from Canada south to Mexico, the album "Eat right! / Come Bien!" combines music with bilingual education and educating about healthy eating - quite a bit to achieve on one album!
Mexican musician, composer and educator José Luis Orozco has put together an album of 19 songs in Spanish language, followed by English versions of the same 19 songs. The music is influenced by Latin American traditions but the songs are written by José.
Both my daughters and I preferred the Spanish versions of the songs despite us not understanding the language, as these songs come across with a pleasant Latin flair. The songs are about healthy eating such as vegetables, salads, a fruit conga and more. However, the English translations feel - well you could say cute or embarrassing, as the translated lyrics don't work particularly well. To give you a couple of examples - in "The food on my plate" he sings "Long live my fruit, the fruit on my plate. Long live my fruit, the fruit that makes me feel so great. Long live my protein, the protein on my plate. Long live my protein that makes me feel so great!". Or in "The Legumes Dance": "Hello my friends! I am the little pinto bean, and here I present to you the dance of the legumes. We have fibre!"
What the album will do is help children gain a feel for the two languages. And throughout the album, it comes through that Jose Luis must be a really likable character who I am sure if great fun to experience in live.
Photo Credits: (1) FolkEast, (4) 'The Peculiar Tales of the S.S. Bungalow' (unknown/from website); (2) Megson, (3) Russell & Algar (by The Mollis).