Thursday, September 17, 2009

CD Review (Plus Free Downloads!) : Kenny Loggins' All Join In

My son, Nate, adores music. Ever since he was born, he's enjoyed listening to tunes on the radio, on TV, on the computer - wherever we may be. As a newborn, his ears would perk up and his eyes would open up wide at the sound of a lullaby. Now, he shows his excitement for a melody by bouncing dancing and clapping. His passion for music has grown right along with him.

But it's no easy task to find music we can both enjoy. Many children's albums are too boring, too sickeningly sweet or too loud and in-your-face for my taste. There nothing more grating on my nerves than repetitive tunes like Barney's "I Love You", Sharon, Lois and Bram's "Skidamarink" or Lambchop's "The Song That Doesn't End". Just try not to get those songs stuck in your head and watch yourself fail miserably! But much of the modern music I listen to isn't appropriate for toddlers ("disco stick", anyone?) or just doesn't appeal to him.

So, when I was invited to review an as-yet-unreleased family album, All Join In by Kenny Loggins, I gladly agreed. I wasn't sure what to expect since the only Kenny Loggins song I knew was "Danger Zone" from the movie, Top Gun. He was an artist more of my parents' generation. But I did a little research and found out he was the first major rock star to dedicate himself to recording music for kids. So, that explained why I hadn't heard of him in decades! His album Return to Pooh Corner is the best-selling children's album of the last 20 years. Wow! So that inspired me to keep an open mind while listening to the disk.
All Join In is a lovingly crafted, extremely entertaining collection of uplifting songs - a musical gumbo to please long-time fans, parents and children alike. The album includes fresh, creative takes of classics: The Beatles' "All Together Now" and "Two of Us", Randy Newman's "You've Got a Friend in Me", the Dell Vikings' 1950's classic "Come Go With Me", Traffic's "You Can All Join In" and Donovan's 1960's classic "There Is a Mountain".
Track Listing:

1. Underneath the Sky
2. All Together Now
3. You've Got a Friend in Me
4. Two of Us
5. Come Go With Me
6. There is a Mountain
7. The Puppy Song
8. You Can All Join In
9. Gandhi/Buddha
10. Long Tailed Cat
11. Your Lollipop
12. Moose 'n Me
13. 1234

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Every single song was engaging and upbeat, with children accompanying Kenny on many of the tracks. There were only two "slower" songs on the disk but they were hardly boring. Each classic song was adapted for a more contemporary, kid-friendly feel, and the original music was well-crafted. I was unaware of most of the songs but some, like "You've Got a Friend in Me", I immediately recognized from Toy Story and "Underneath the Same Sky" from Tigger & Pooh and Musical Too.

Nate's favorites are "All Together Now", an irresistible sing-along that made us both dance around the living room with smiles on our faces and "Two of Us", a country duet with Jim Messina that is just perfect for car rides. My other personal faves were the doo-wop reminiscent "Come Go With Me", the youthful anthem "1234" and the tranquil "Ghandi/Buddha". The latter worried me a bit from the title alone and I was afraid it would delve into the heavy topic of religion. Instead, it has the most beautiful lyrics and chorus of, "I must've done something great to get to have you". Why, I look at my son everyday and think the same thing. Kids might not "get it" but parents surely will.

There wasn't one song on the CD that I disliked or found irritating. I've had it on heavy rotation between at home and the car and neither of us have gotten tired of it yet. It is entertaining for parents and kids alike. While there was definitely a country influence on the album, I believe no matter what your preferred genre, you'll find something here that you like.

BUY IT: As I mentioned, All Join In does not yet have a release date. However, the singles "There is a Mountain" and "Two of Us" are available on iTunes. You can also view music videos and listen to music clips on the Kenny Loggins website.

DELECTABLE DEAL: You can download 4 songs from the album for free! Just visit this link, take a listen, tell Walt Disney Records what you think about the music and they will email you a link to download the MP3s.

Disclaimer: I was invited to review this CD because of my membership in the One2One Network. I was sent a free copy of this CD from One2One Network on behalf of Walt Disney Records to facilitate my candid review. I was in no other way compensated for this post.


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