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A Family’s Family CD

by Kathy O’Connell

In their new Family Album CD, Two of a Kind (David and Jenny Heitler-Klevans) invoke age-old parental pleas to “Think of It as An Adventure” when faced with the everyday woes of life. I love this CD with its mix of fun and reflection.

Any veggie-challenged kid can claim “I Have Two Stomachs” with “one for the meal and one just for dessert.” Family Album ap­proaches life from two points of view within one family unit, shown best in “Love Makes a Family” and a cover of Peter and Lou Berryman’s “It’s Bet­ter Than That,” where parents chortle over the wondrous world that comes alive when children are asleep.

This close-knit musical family includes twins Ari and Jason on a few songs, but they never take over the project. The heart of the album is always Mom and Dad. Two of a Kind’s CDs always feature clear, accessible production and musicianship, displayed beautifully here. Environmentally friendly reminders like “We Share the Earth” and “Seeds” speak to the overall feeling that this truly is a Family Album. Find it at www.twoofakind.com

Carlin Gets It Right
New York City is home to the outstanding education project Artscetera, bringing music and art to city school children. The project’s first CD, Sing Shout & Clap is a nice collection of classics (“This Little Light of Mine”) as well as originals like “The Hide and Seek Crowd.” While I liked this CD, I picture it dazzling adult listeners more than its target kid audience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Artscetera alumnus John Carlin’s First Time for Everything fixes everything that felt a little “off” about Sing Shout & Clap. Carlin brings excellent singer/songwriter sensibilities to little kids’ music, moving him beyond your standard “guy with guitar” kids’ artist.

Carlin covers classics “Tennessee Stud,” “This Little Light” and “Waltzing Matilda” nicely. He turns “Mary Had a Little Lamb” into an epic. His original tunes are fun and show an understanding of kids.

“Bein’ a Dog” is a litany of canine activities you can imitate, sung with fun and rhythm. The title song is a wonderful Tom Waits-ish bluesy celebration of the daily accomplishments of growing up, from first time eating by yourself to first sleepover.

John Carlin is a wonderful addition to the world of family music-makers. My only criticism is with the cover, which gives no indication of the wonders that exist in this CD.
Find First Time for Everything at
www.johncarlinmusic.com

Perfect for New Parents
Swingset Mamas creates music for little kids that sets Mom’s feet dancing. In Dance Around the House, this duo of moms delivers, whether rocking to “The Littlest One” or giving good advice in “Sunscreen Dance.” Dance Around the House and Swingset Mamas are perfect CD gifts for new parents.

The baby might not comprehend the lyrics, but Swingset Mamas create a mix of rock and musical styles that may keep Mom and Dad sane in those early months. These two know their subject, approaching motherhood with fun and grace. Find them at www.swingsetmamas.com

Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of the Peabody-award-winning Kids Corner, weekdays 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.