[TWEE FOR TOTS] I love kids, but I hate kids’ music. This is a major reason I don’t intend to have children: I’m just not willing to spend six or seven years of my life listening to Uncle Woody’s Rubber Ducky Band or whatever DayGlo awfulness the Disney Channel, Nick Jr. and PBS Kids conspire to force-feed my hypothetical spawn.
I get the impression Laura Veirs doesn’t much care for kids’ music, either. Sure, her new kids disc, Tumble Bee, has its moments of hammered repetition and unnecessary animal noises, but for the most part it presents Veirs—accompanied by an impressive list of Portland players and special guests like Karl Blau, Bela Fleck and Basia Bulat—singing in her natural pitch and timbre. She’s cutting children a little slack, introducing them to a slate of songs—mostly traditionals, though the disc’s best track might be the Woody Guthrie-penned “Why Oh Why”—that they might not grow into rather than out of.
Among the disc’s most pleasant surprises are the Blau-penned near-title track, “Tumblebee” (which sounds a tad twee—can kids’ songs be twee?—but not particularly childish), and the traditional “The Fox,” which makes great use of both Veirs’ own subtle harmonies and the big Portland choir.
As we all know from Lord of the Flies, children left to their own devices soon become loud, inappropriate and violent. Kimya Dawson’s clattering recent children’s offering, Alphabutt (as in, “B is for butt/ C is for cat butt”), is probably more along the line of something the little monsters would choose for themselves. But if Veirs seeks to strike a balance between unmedicated children and their NPR-loving parents, Tumble Bee—which includes some much-needed lullabies and instrumental breaks—should do the trick. Should your children reject acoustic guitars and sweet harmonies, try soundtracking their time-outs with Tumble Bee. That oughta teach ’em.
SEE IT: Laura Veirs plays Mississippi Studios on Sunday, Dec. 4. 3:30 pm. $10 adults, $5 kids 12 and under, free for babies.