Laurie Berkner's Favorite Classic Kids' Songs

Laurie Berkner

Two Tomatoes Records, 2015

http://www.laurieberkner.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/22/2016

Laurie Berkner is the queen of kids' music, and here she gathers 51 tracks, most of which are traditional children's songs. Additionally, there are six originals, and while those originals are the minority, it's that creative song craft that has transformed Berkner from a preschool teacher to full time kindie-rocker.

Not so surprisingly, there are many songs about animals and bugs for the kids, many of which stand out across these two discs. Also not surprising is how diverse these songs can be. “The Animal Fair” is largely pianos and guitars, whereas “Froggie Went-A-Courtin'” is a jangly strummer about a romantic frog and a mouse. “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” is largely a cappella, and similarly, the soulful “The Cat Came Back” is backed by finger snapping. Others, such as  “I Love My Rooster,” sound like your favorite indie-singer songwriter and show that Berkner can hit some high notes. Meanwhile, “Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz)” starts out reflectively before evolving into an enthusiastic album standout. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Berkner also includes several songs that clock in at under a minute, including the toe-tapping “There Were Five In The Bed”, the sole hand clapping of “One Two Buckle My Shoe,” and the group a cappella “Down Down Baby,” where hand clapping and foot stomping provide all the instrumentation.

While it's often easy to forget one is listening to music directed for the little ears, especially on songs like “Daisy Daisy (Bicycle Built For Two),” which is a folky-pop tune heavy on the tambourines and flute, most of the time it's quite apparent as Berkner often talks in her songs as if there's audience, asking for noises from the listener to correlate with the subject matter. We're even more reminded of the target audience on traditionals such “If You're Happy And You Know It,” “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean,” and “She'll Be Comin' Round The Mountain,” which are revised in Berkner's own children's vision.

Berkner didn't get where she is in this particular niche of music by doing a mediocre job. While 51 tracks from any artist is likely to yield some duds, these songs never overstay their welcome, and Berkner's playfulness can be easily embraced by the kid in all of us.

Rating: B+

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