Tuesday, February 12, 2008

***The Harmonica Pocket***

As soon as I saw the Matthew Porter painting on the cover of this CD, I knew it was gonna be a winner! Ladybug One, the second collection of kids' songs from Washington State's The Harmonica Pocket, will win you over with its laid-back originals and quiet reworkings of traditional tunes. Meditative, atmospheric, gentle, inventive ... you won't hear arrangements like this on any other album for children.

The Harmonica Pocket is primarily singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Keeth Monta Apgar, and a musical cast o' plenty. He's showcased his considerable pop songwriting talents on albums like Birds Falling from the Sky and Underneath Your Umbrella, which contains the original version of "Spiders in My Breakfast". Much like Matt Pryor's The New Amsterdams and The Terrible Twos, if you like Apgar's grownup albums, yer gonna like the kids' stuff, and vice versa.

This cool little concept album revolves primarily around the idea of insects and bugs, with songs like "Firefly", "Spiders in My Breakfast", "Ladybug 123", and "Bumblebee Lullabye". But then check out these tasty tidbits: "O Susanna" in 5/4 time with sitar and tabla accompaniment; the Hindi lullaby "Mere Bacche Ke Liye Lori"; and the 55-second brilliance of "Four Spaces".

One of my favorite parts of opening a new album is reading the credits, and I love some of the instrument descriptions listed in Ladybug One: waterphone, wind wand, dixieland kazoo ... but these and other exotic instruments aren't just thrown in on a whim. Everything is woven into each song in a way that doesn't bring attention to it, and songs are made stronger by their inclusion.

Apgar closes the album with five naptime songs: the previously mentioned "Mere Bacche", the ridiculously sweet "Bumblebee Lullabye", the bilingual "La Luna", Monica Schley's pedal harp instrumental "Lucid Dream #3", and Apgar's own mbira solo called "Mbira Dreaming" ... hey!

Wonderful little songs about acceptance and love, appreciation of and respect for nature and the environment, the beauty of our world, and, of course, ABCs and 123s. A perfect present for new parents or indie music fans, Ladybug One is a great representation of Apgar's gift of melody and lyric, and hopefully this won't be his last offering to the kids' music world.


Anonymous said...

Nice review, Warren! Glad you liked it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Warren - Just wanted to say thank you for the shout out about the artwork I did on Harmoica Pocket's Ladybug One album. I am pleased how it turned out and glad others can spot my artwork in different formats! Cheers - Matthew

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