FolkWorld Issue 39 07/2009; Children music reviews by Michael Moll (with the help of Yasmine, 1 year)

Folk for Children
Children's Favourites

Yasmine The arrival of a new folkie on this world puts the parents to a new challenge: How do you find music for children, that meets also the high standards of parents who are used to listen to quality folk music? I have found myself in this situation since last year, with the birth of my first daugther. In this new column, I will introduce children's music which will also find the liking of the folk mamas and papas - but most of all is loved by children. In this first edition only one CD is reviewed.

Children's Favourites" is this CD entitled, which features a collection of songs, tunes and sketches from the English duo Simon Mayor and Hilary James. The duo is with children best known under their pseudonym "Musical Mystery Tour"; under this title, the duo have toured the UK with children's programmes, and has published five children's CDs to date. However, they have also a reputation in the adult folk scene - Simon is acclaimed as a leading mandolin virtuoso, and Hilary James' folk singing is also well known. But throughout their careers, they have maintained a keen interest in music for children, and have been featured in BBC TV children programmes, and have toured schools throughout the country.

Simon Mayor & Hilary James, Children's Favourites

Icon Sound Snowmans's Song, Road to Banbury, Flock of Flamingoes

The album "Children's Favourites" presents a collection of material from their Magical Mystery albums, as well as a number of mandolin interpretation of classical music from Simon Mayor's solo albums. While the material is of high quality throughout, the mix of children's songs, classical melodies, folk songs, and sketches appears somewhat odd. Some of the sketches appear out of context on this album, but most of the songs and tunes individually are enjoyable.

The songs are, with very few exceptions, written by the duo. And there are some great children's songs with superb lyrics. There is a song about a snowman dreaming of a nice cup of tea, but the snowlady melting his heart, a song about a spider in the shed, or a song with the wonderful turkey chorus "gobble gobble gobble". There are additionally songs which are more trad folk in style and from the lyrics (even though obviously children friendly) - an example are some of the Midsummer Market songs.

The tunes, classical material played in a folky way, is appealing and child friendly, even if it may feel a bit odd inbetween the children's songs. Simon's singing is very much at home with children's material - it is warm and fun. Hilary's singing is enjoyable as well, even though I find at times that it is more at home with the more folky, rather than children's songs. The musical quality is top throughout, featuring fiddles, mandolins, guitars, banjos, ukulelels, percussion etc.

The album makes me interested in full themed albums, and even more to see their children's programme live. Even if it may not be a perfectly coherent collection, it does give a good overview of what this duo has done. Yasmine does already enjoy the music, but no doubt it will become even better for her once she understands the lyrics.

German Titles


Photo Credits: (1) Yasmine (by the Mollis); (2) Simon Mayor & Hilary James "Children's Favourites from Acoustics" (from website).

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