Dan Zanes is back, and this time he brought friends. What better way to celebrate children’s music than through friendship? Little Nut Tree follows the Grammy-winning Catch That Train and brings together a host of guest musicians including Sharon Jones, Andrew Bird, Joan Osborne, and the Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars. Zanes attempts to make music that kids, and the adults who love them, will both enjoy listening to. Consider him the Pixar Studios in the world of children’s music. Little Nut Tree mostly succeeds in its attempts to bridge generation gaps, but sometimes falls prey to over-complication. In my opinion, quality children’s music often has three things that work in conjunction: Repetition, catchy singable hooks, and simplistic instrumentation. Little Nut Tree has a lot going on musically. I loved it, but my three year old seemed overwhelmed at times. Two or three of the songs successfully caught her attention and compelled her to sing along. The others did not seem to have this effect. The unique and layered instrumentation drew me in as an adult. Dan Zanes’ arrangements are well balanced and a great mix of all the influences the listener is exposed to on Little Nut Tree. In spite of the fact that it has a lot going on, it is jaunting fun that will make repeated listens bearable for adults. And that is a good thing.
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