Chip Taylorâ€™s most widely known for his iconic rock, pop and country compositions, including â€œI Canâ€™t Let Go,â€ â€œWild Thing,â€ â€œAngel of the Morning,â€ â€œCountry Girl City Manâ€ and â€œSweet Dream Woman.â€ His parallel recording career, including solo albums and a few charting singles in the mid-70s, never gained the renown of his writing, and spent most of the 1980s as a successful professional gambler. He crept back on to the music scene with a few albums in the â€˜90s, and in 2002 he kicked off a series of collaborations with Carrie Rodriguez, which in turn led to the past decadeâ€™s recording renaissance. His latest, recorded with three granddaughters (Riley, Kate and Samantha), is the product of his long-term practice of writing songs for family events. On the occasion of his sonâ€™s marriage, Taylor wrote a trio of songs to sing with his grandkids, and the familyâ€™s response prompted this full album.
Taylorâ€™s grizzled voice blends happily with the chirpy pre-teen tones of his granddaughters, and the songs heâ€™s written (with co-writing from Kate on â€œMagical Horseâ€) fit their young years. The girls sing sweetly, shining on the humorous stories and confident on the more serious lyrics. The former will catch your kidsâ€™ ears for sing-along on first pass, but itâ€™s the weightier lyrics that introduce the deeper pleasures of songs. Taylorâ€™s songs allow his grandkids to be kids, suggesting they â€œlearn stuff about stuff you donâ€™t know,â€ take time to wander into their imaginations, and ask questions. There are messages for adults as well, reminding parents that kids have ideas and dreams that need to be heard, and that they can be empowered to care for others and for the planet.
The three songs originally recorded for Taylorâ€™s sonâ€™s wedding close the collection, including the terrific second-line inflected soul of â€œThe Possum Hunter,â€ a fatherâ€™s clever and warm advisory â€œHappy Wedding,â€ and the hopeful â€œNow That Kristian and Anna Have Wed.â€ The album is charming and, particularly given Taylorâ€™s depth as a songwriter, the quality of his assembled band, and the freshness of his granddaughtersâ€™ singing, a welcome respite from the bulk of purpose-built childrenâ€™s music. The collectionâ€™s release on Smithsonian Folkways puts it in remarkable company, alongside classic albums from Pete Seeger, Ella Jenkins, Alan Mills and many others. Take a break from Barney and the Wiggles, and let Chip Taylor and his granddaughters entertain you. [Â©2011 hyperbolium dot com]