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Laura Veirs

Tumble Bee

(Raven Marching Band; US: 8 Nov 2011; UK: 7 Nov 2011)

Laura Veirs follows in the footsteps of Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and others with Tumble Bee, a collection of songs for children. The half-hour set is sweet start to finish, with Veirs and long-time producer and collaborator Tucker Martine, giving these songs simple but lush instrumentation that keep classic children’s songs fresh. She is alternately comforting (“Prairie Lullaby”) and playful (the tack piano romp of “Jack Can I Ride?”). Her take on “Jamaican Farewell”, with its thick strings, is surprisingly affecting, while her duet with Colin Meloy on “Soldier’s Joy” is a purely fun thigh-slapper with great fiddle work. Tumble Bee. is well-executed throughout, but it’s probably better to call these “songs intended for children”, because the folk-pop here is surely bright and catchy enough for kids to enjoy, but perhaps too subtle for them to really latch onto. In the end, it’s a record as much for the parents as the kids, a way to make nap time relaxing for both parties, which is fine. Veirs does justice to tunes Seeger and Guthrie wrote, as well as other traditional tunes, and never overdoes them. So whether or not it’s really “for” children, this record still succeeds in all the ways it wants to, and Veirs charm comes across at every turn.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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Laura Veirs - The Making of Tumble Bee
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