Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Papa Crow - Full Moon, Full Moon

Marquette, Michigan's Papa Crow has finally released his long-awaited album Full Moon, Full Moon, his third collection of music for kids and families. The project was funded by a PledgeMusic campaign that directs a portion of the proceds to Oxfam, an organization that works to find solutions to poverty and social injustice.

The album kicks off with "Daylight in the Swamp," a brief acoustic preview of what's to come on Full Moon, Full Moon, sounding like a Ronnie Lane outtake from Rough Mix, the album on which Lane collaborated with Pete Townshend. "I've Got a Feeling" isn't The Beatles' Let It Be track; instead it's a vaudevillian celebration of another wonderful day. Papa Crow then gets us "Moving to the Beat" with a breezy, ska-influenced tune that features a nifty instrumental break. The upbeat Alt Country tune "Great White Pine" provides an up-high view of the wonders of outdoor adventures, while the increasingly loud and rowdy "I Wanna Rock & Roll" introduces the instruments of the band, punctuated by a Papa Crow guitar solo. "Outside Sounds" catalogues aural experiences that occur throughout the day via some super catchy newgrass, and the traditional country-sounding tune "Bumpy Bump Road" would make a great live concert sing along. Next comes one of the highlights of Full Moon, Full Moon, "Give Some, Get Some," a waltzing Alt Country duet with Frances England that would make Emmylou Harris and Jeff Tweedy jealous.

"In All of the World" is yet another top tune on the album; the lighter-waving, soulful song is deserving of a cover by Daptone Records recording star Charles Bradley. Papa Crow's dad wrote "The Michigan Waltz," a tune of memories; think a quieter, more contemplative version of Palmer and Ward's classic "The Band Played On." "Fireflies" juxtaposes the unlikely instrumental pals of acoustic guitar and synthesizer, and celebrates sharing the wonder of natural nighttime flashlights with our young ones. The mandolin-driven tune, "Over the Rooftops," is a family sing along that has the instrumental feel of an old folk song from Great Britain. Sounding like a minor key Neil Young classic, the title tune "Full Moon, Full Moon" anthropomorphisizes our lunar neighbor and features haunting fiddle work by Sara Pajunen. Another highlight is "A Billion Stars" whose thoughtful lyrics, chord changes, and fingerpicking style sound like a mix of Nick Drake, James Iha, and Robert Pollard. On "The Sun is Yellow" Papa Crow duets with Liat Tova Lis, a singer/songwriter who is sort of a modern day Malvina Reynolds, and the two deliver a song about opposites so simple in its lyrical design it becomes almost cosmic. Full Moon, Full Moon comes to a close with a reprise of "Daylight in the Swamp." This second time 'round, the Green Garden 4H Club band give the tune a distinctive Irish lilt, and their song-concluding laughter is a perfect way to end the album.

Sure, Jeff Krebs has released several animal- and sound-themed EPs and albums for kids, but Full Moon, Full Moon feels like his first true collection. The songs on this release speak to the entire family, they're accessible to kids while still being intelligent, and they're catchy as hell. Let's hope the Kindie Rock world hears more from Papa Crow in the future.

Released October 8, 2014; Things That Roar

Track Listing
  1. "Daylight in the Swamp"
  2. "I've Got a Feeling"
  3. "Moving to the Beat"
  4. "Great White Pine"
  5. "I Wanna Rock & Roll"
  6. "Outside Sounds"
  7. "Bumpy Bump Road"
  8. "Give Some, Get Some"
  9. "In All of the World"
  10. "The Michigan Waltz"
  11. "Fireflies"
  12. "Over the Rooftops"
  13. "Full Moon, Full Moon"
  14. "A Billion Stars"
  15. "The Sun is Yellow"
  16. "Daylight in the Swamp (Reprise)"