CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 1. . . .September 3, 2010
Andrew Queen Too Tall.
(www.andrewqueen.ca or email@example.com), 2010.
1 CD, 41 min., 21 sec., $14.95.
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 2-7.
Review by Jeff Nielsen.
It's official. Every Canadian indie folk band member of the nineties has set their sights on your children. You can now add Andrew Queen from 'motorgrass' band Jughead to Moxy Fruvous's Mike Ford, the Clumsy Lovers' Chris Hamilton (plus The Bare Naked Ladies in their entirety) to the list of former hipsters who are now paying attention to the little things.
Though he's now performing for smaller audiences, literally, Andrew hasn't lowered his standards. His backing band, The Crocadaadies, are a tight unit who, while allowing room for guests such as Travis Good from Canadian Alt-country master The Sadies, can help Queen skip from folk-story song ("Hello, My Name is Joe") to jazz ("Big Trouble for Little Red) to French-Canadian fiddle-tunes ("la Bastriningue") to a kind of doo-wop zydeco ("Cinderella") without ever sounding forced. As for his material, Queen has chosen a rollicking mix of traditionals and originals that keeps the album from descending into musical mugging.
The pitfalls in making kids music these days include being so desperate for approval that the artist will endlessly affect a child's viewpoint and simplify the musical accompaniment to the point of inanity. None of those problems are in evidence here. In fact, the album sounds like a group of musicians getting together to make music that elicits joy and jumping, which just happened to turn into a children's album along the way.
This album comes highly recommended for the two to six set (my two-year-old ran in from the living room to demand some dancing when "The Hockey Song" began) and, in fact, those compiling a list of the best children's albums of the year come winter should start sharpening their crayons now.
Jeff Nielsen usually teaches high school history in Lorette, MB, but he's taken a sabbatical this year, which has resulted in more dancing.
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