Elizabeth Mitchell

41NQ9BP6JZL._SL500_AA240_ I first found Elizabeth Michell (a folk-rock singer and guitarist from NY) at one of Ottawa’s growing number of baby boutiques – her CD was playing in the background. Her sound was what inspired me to think differently about kids music and gave me hope that if you go looking for it, you can find some fabulous albums. While I haven’t yet listened to her other band, Ida, I’ve fallen in love with her children’s albums.

Mark Demming’s review stated it best –

Most commercial childrens music seems to be made under the assumption that youngsters are incapable of appreciating subtlety and need to be aurally slapped about the face with melodic and lyrical repetition in order to make sense of what they’re hearing. Elizabeth Mitchell is an educator and musician who thankfully knows better.

The simplest way to describe her music is indie-folk. It’s primarily just her and her guitar, with help from her husband, singers like Lisa Loeb, and a gaggle of delightfully adorable kids that jump in on the odd song. I think that’s one nice thing about these albums – it’s nice to hear kids singing along and being a part of the music, but it’s not overkill – they pop in, are utterly adorable, and then the album moves on to another song without kids entirely. The other great thing about Elizabeth Mitchell is that while her style is definitely folk, it’s a little more indie and edgy, particularly on Catch the Moon and You Are My Little Bird. It can take you a song or two before you even realise you’re listening to a kids album.

The songs include a mix of traditional folksongs (Woodie Guthrie, Elizabeth Cotten), and indie/pop/rock covers (Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan), and have elements of gospel, bluegrass, and even a little Johnny Cash. They also feature a nice mix of soft, lullaby-like tunes in French and Spanish, and upbeat, interactive songs that you won’t resist bouncing along to. I’ve even pulled out a tambourine (Boo’s favourite thing) a few times.

The first two albums (You Are My Flower and You Are My Sunshine, both released 2002) are much shorter and more traditionally folk. Catch the Moon (with Lisa Loeb, released 2003) is a little more pop and polished, and You Are My Little Bird (released 2006), which is my personal fav (and comes with a chord book for those of you who can strum a guitar), is a nice balance of everything.

You can listen to her albums on her website, YouAreMyFlower.org. It’s also available on Amazon.com and Emusic.com.

You can also check out these videos on YouTube:


Leave a comment »

Finding good music for parents, erm, I mean kids

A friend once told me a story about something her husband said at their first baby shower. After opening a big pile of gifts and looking over the dozens of sleepers and one-sies and t-shirts covered in ducks and bears and all things baby, he exclaimed in disgust “you know, this stuff is just so infantile”. She explained that they were, in fact, expecting an infant, but I really appreciate the sentiment behind his statement. Don’t get me wrong, my Boo has her share of stuffed lambs and duck-printed footy pjs, and her room is painted a pastel green, but along the way I drew a line in the sand, and I will not accept that music for kids needs to be so saccharine that it makes your teeth hurt.

Like so many other activities, music should be a family affair. I want to be able to enjoy the long drive to see Boo’s grandparents and have all of us sing along to something in the CD player. But like my quest to find fun, non-toxic, environmentally friendly wooden toys, it’s not an easy one, so I thought it would be nice to share with other parents the diamonds in the rough and give them hope that there’s more out there than the Doodle Bops.

So here is a blog documenting my journey to find good music for parents kids. Please feel free to send me your own suggestions for great music.

Leave a comment »