Listen to this! Unity through Celebrating Diverse Communities

RED YARN, Red Yarn’s Old Barn

Portland is home to many designers, artists, and artisans imbued with a rebellious DIY spirit. So it is no surprise that out of Portland comes a heartfelt and rebellious fifth family music album from Red Yarn titled Red Yarn’s Old Barn. The symbol of the Old Barn stands central in many of the tracks. It serves as a container for the past, present, and future. A place that holds memories of childhood adventure and freedom, a place that is inclusive, celebrates new life and diverse communities, brings perseverance through tragedy, and provides a space for rebuilding and renewal. Make no mistake, Red Yarn’s Old Barn is a highly personal album filled with well-crafted, super catchy protest music for kids! The first single off the album, Old Barn, serves up a remedy for dark times. The song calls on the barnyard community to stop wallowing in their troubles and celebrate their individual talents together as a diverse and inclusive community in order to remain positive through adversity– how’s that for an opening song?! Old Barn is followed by a Zydeco-inspired track, Down In the Meadow, which continues the theme of celebrating a diverse community together. Even well known predator/ prey relationships are bucked in this song. A cat can’t even eat the mouse he’s caught because, “you can’t hurt a friend when there’s a party going on!” A favorite track on the album is a bluesy re-interpretation of a traditional southern African-American folksong, Old Hen Cackled. With original lyrics by Red Yarn, the song speaks to child empowerment and foresees a brighter, hard fought future where the old hen makes it to the White House. Yes! Another outstanding track is a wistful country love song, Go Little Gator, dedicated to a long lost green ATV Red Yarn used to ride as a 12 year-old. Truly, there is not a weak link on this album, and it is not surprising considering the talent pool that came together to create it (Dan Hunt from Neko Case, Jazzy Ash, and Jenny Conlee from The Decemberists, to name a few). As a whole, the album is powerful and poignant, a stand out among an already well-established catalog of solid work. To have a listen for yourself, you’ll have to wait until the 27th, but in the meantime, enjoy the music video for Old Barn. The door is always open, all you have to do is walk on through. All are welcome.

Calling all Portlanders!

To celebrate the release of Red Yarn’s Old Barn, Red Yarn will be performing at the Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Ave, Portland, OR on 4/28. Get tickets now!!

 

ELIZABETH MITCHELL & SUNI PAZ, Tú eres mi flor

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the good people of Smithsonian Folkways have just released a sweet Spanish language children’s album by renown children’s music artists Elizabeth Mitchell and Suni Paz. The album, Tú Eres Mi Flor (You are my Flower) is a mellow, acoustic folk album that unifies two cultures through the power of song. By centering its focus around the synergy beween Elizabeth Mitchell and Suni Paz’s vocals, the album highlights the simple beauty of two voices working together, sometimes in harmony, and sometimes in alternating solos. The album is largely sung in Spanish by both artists. The contrast of hearing Elizabeth Mitchell’s Spanish vocals as an English-speaker and Suni Paz’s Spanish vocals as a native-Spanish speaker works well to cement the underlying concept of cultural literacy through collaboration. The concept is aptly explained by Elizabeth Mitchell, “Music can dissolve boundaries between people while simultaneously honor the diversity that makes true harmony possible. If we can sing together, maybe we can find the humanity in each other which [in turn] makes peace possible. Learning music from multilingual sources can be an empowering and enlightening bridge for people of all ages to cross together.” The album opens with a quiet and serene expression of thanks and gratitude in its first track, Gracías Mil followed by a more uptempo greeting song, Hola. It is easy to imagine these two songs being used during a Pre-K or Kindergarten morning circle time to greet and welcome each other to a new day of learning. It is perfect for the classroom and is truly accessible to all. Listeners who are not so familiar with Spanish will still recognize familiar melodies of well-known children’s songs like Tú eres mi sol  (You are My Sunshine) and Rema, rema, rema el bote (Row, Row, Row Your Boat). Additionally, the album includes a 40-page booklet with notes and lyrics in both English and Spanish to help listeners learn lyrics. There are cute playful songs such as the waltz Es un mundo grande (It’s a Big World) and Juan el conejo (John the Rabbit). And, of course, there is a song that teaches the ABC’s in Spanish, Abecedario. As a whole, the songs are simple, fun, and easy to learn and sing along. Their accessibility accentuates the album’s core themes of harmony, empathy, and kindness; messages that are necessary counter-points to the strife-laden current events of the day. This album reminds us that we are citizens of the world and we stand only to benefit by learning from one another. 

 

SARA LOVELL, Wild is Everywhere

Berkley’s own singer/songwriter Sara Lovell has a new album about to drop on April 20th! Wild is Everywhere is here to remind us that though uncertainty may fill our modern lives, we have every ounce of control over how we react to it! The album challenges us to move through the world together, to accept and honor our differences, to be curious, and to be unafraid to celebrate ourselves just as we are – vulnerable and replete with messy emotions. As Lovell states in the musically tense, theatrical song, The Dark Side of My Room (where she explores this admission of fear),  “Oh, I know, I can be a hero in my dreams, oh I know, I will see the light in every scene. It’s the dark side of my room I envision many things, but I won’t utter them aloud just in case… they appear along with their friends!” Funny and all too true. Other songs that celebrate our foibles are the Fiona Apple-esque I Want it Now (which speaks to impulse control), the bluesy How To Love Yourself (which is a pep-talk song about picking yourself up when you are down), and The Problem Song (another Fiona Apple sounding track that explores troubleshooting in its many facets). Speaking of the influence of Fiona Apple (most apparent on the stand out track All the Grown Ups Get To Stay Up Late) the sounds of the late 90s keep bubbling up amid the Beatles’y opening track Get Up, the Appalachian/country influenced track, Raspberry Pickleberry Wormnut Pie, the gospel/ bluesy/ funk tracks Rhinoceros Under the Bed, Stand Together, Where you Hiding All Day Long and the disco funk of Bounce. The album even ends with a delicate homage to Tori Amos with the track on which the album is titled, Wild Is Everywhere. Sara Lovell reminds us to look close and listen even more closely. This is definitely an album you’ll want in frequent rotation.

Good People of Oakland, Sara Lovell is coming your way!

Come celebrate the release of Wild is Everywhere at Oakland’s new East Bay Community Space in Temescal. Saturday, April 28th 12pm-2pm, 507 55th Street, Oakland, CA.

Hey Santa Monica Peeps, Sara is also coming down to see you!

Sunday May 6th, 10:30am at McCabe’s Guitar Shop, 3101 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA.

Out April 20th, Wild is Everywhere is available for pre-sale. Get a track download from Bandcamp immediately upon purchase!

 

123 ANDRÉS, La Luna

Out of Washington DC, 123 Andrés has a new album that features Spanish lullabies (never too early to expose your children to a second or third language, and you can do it without Tiger Parenting, nice and easy– while they are sleeping)! In this collection of lullabies, listeners will be transported to the sounds and imagery from many different Latin and South American countries. The music is rich and evocative, yet soothing. However, be forewarned: some of these songs are upbeat enough to get you spontaneously dancing, (which is admittedly what happened to me while I was taking a first listen). Songs like La Luna and Benjamín should perhaps be reserved for bath time (after all, Benjamín is a playful tune about a pirate searching for new words so it is thematically appropriate)! In addition to a few uptempo songs, the album contains lullabies that serve a double duty. Two counting songs such as Un Elefante (think Spanish version of Three Little Monkeys) and Las Ovejas (about counting sheep on a hillside) are quiet and calming enough for sleep but also can easily function as mellow educational counting songs. The album features instrumental arrangements that portray the traditional musical aesthetics found in the countries that inspired the songs. La Luna, as a whole, is truly the product of a collaborative effort, not only with an impressive list of musicians from all over South and Latin America, but also from their fan base. Fans of 123Andrés were encouraged to share bedtime rituals and nighttime phrases they use at home to tuck their children in each night. These phrases, sayings and poems served as inspiration for various lullaby lyrics and in some cases, the “good night” tidings literally appear in the tracks. The theme here is connection, from the insular bond within a family to a global connection between all peoples. As stated by 123Andrés himself, “Music is the perfect vehicle to forge those bonds and create memories.” And, there is a good deed bonus: a portion of the proceeds form the sale of La Luna will benefit the Greater DC Diaper Bank!

Check Out 123 Andrés’s first music video from La Luna:

Hey Bay Area Peninsula Dwellers!

123 Andrés is coming to a library near you:

Check him out on Tuesday, April 24th at 4:30pm for a FREE CONCERT at the Menlo Park Public Library, 413 Ivy Drive, Menlo Park, CA 94025

 

JESSIE BAYLIN, Strawberry Wind

Nashville-based pop artist and songwriter Jessie Baylin has a new album at the ready. Strawberry Wind is releasing through Amazon Music on April 27th and it is a must have for your family music collection. I’m going to try very hard not to gush all the way through this review, but I am doomed to fail because WOW does this album hit the mark. Strawberry Wind transcends the kindie music tropes and strikes a perfect balance, creating an album that is lyrically thoughtful, universally themed and extremely well arranged, performed and produced. The album’s sound leans into a current day take on the early 60’s girl band era, twisting it to contemporary tastes and themes. Influences like Nancy Sinatra, Dionne Warwick, Ritchie Valens, The Carpenters can be heard, with hints of Emmy Lou Harris, Astrud Gilberto, and Linda Ronstadt effortlessly reinterpreted through Jessie’s dynamic, emotional and infectiously unique delivery. We are talking an original here. Strawberry Wind is easily one of the most distinctive family music albums I have heard this year. On tracks like Dream Catcher, Strawberry Wind, Sparkle Shoelaces, and Power In Words, Jessie Baylin deftly weaves pangs of adult longing with the dreamy childhood world of endless possibilities. She lyrically captures that special space within which children exist: the magical present, where the physical world and the imaginary world co-exist seamlessly. The lush and dreamy track titled Sparkle Shoelaces, describes how a small change can make a huge difference in evolving your perspective, metaphorically making lemonade out of life’s lemons. The haunting song Power In Words talks about listening to your inner voice and being mindful of what you say, encouraging all to speak from a place of security and love. The vocals and instrumentation on I Am A Dreamer have the sincerity, purity and sweetness of Audrey Hepburn (as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s) singing Moon River while it lyrically acknowledges the difficult but absolute necessity of being a dreamer in this world. The album concludes with a call for unity in the final track We Need Each Other. Gorgeous and unique vocals, powerful messages, terrific instrumentation and good vibes abound. Allow yourself to drift along on the Strawberry Wind, wherever it may take you. We highly recommend it!

 

 

 

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