I’ve come across two CDs from musicians who usually perform for adults, but have recently turned their collective talent toward the music for the younger set. Using distinct voices, a whole slew of instruments and music grounded in folk, country and Americana styles, I can only hope Rani Arbo and Earthworm Ensemble decide to put out more music for kids in the future.
Earthworm Ensemble has taken a detour from their alt-Americana band alter egos, I See Hawks in LA, to put out this self-titled CD.This collaborative effort presents the world from a kid’s point of view, but after listening to the range of music that goes from country twang
to gentle lullaby, I like the view they’re showing too.
It starts off with a chugging The Traveling Train anchored by the baritone of David Jackson who has one of those how-long-can-you-go voices. The rest of the CD takes a journey that enlightens as well as entertains, as in the gentle folk harmonies of That’s What the Earthworm’s For. Even Jamie Oliver would approve of the adorably infectious father-son cooking rap Pizza Moon—which does not involve calling for take out.
Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem also have earned their musical chops by performing for over 10 years as an American string band, but with Ranky Tanky their focus is specifically on the kids. All 17 songs on this CD are covers, but I’m glad I didn’t let this info detract me from checking it out. Even songs that I know well, like They All Ask’d For You by The Meters or Billy Jonas’s Bear to the Left are worth hearing again and again, especially as the songs turn into a big party of voices and instruments.
Rani Arbo’s gentle clear voice is a perfect accompaniment to the fiddle, banjo, ukelele and other instruments throughout this diverse CD. This is the kind of album I’d want on a road trip, where the whole family can sing along as we drive along watching the countryside whizzing by our windows. –Christina