Back to Form (8/28/98)
Papillion, Cajun Music for Kids! (Music for Little People) - Papillion is a Cajun musician and storyteller who delights in stories and songs of the Creoles and Cajans. These stories and songs bring the Cajan culture to light; explaining the traditions and their French language.
The CD was recorded at Dockside and BuckDancer Studios; and begins with "Down on the Bayou," a great track setting the mood for fun and sharing. Some of the featured tracks include "Sugar (shuga) Bee," "Jambalaya," "Watermelon Man," "Bon Jour!" and "Zydeco Dancing." The album ends with the 23rd track, the always-friendly, "You Are My Sunshine."
Papillion has been teaching children through music for nearly 20 years, and was the recipient of the "International Environmental People Who Care Award" for his "Kids Can Change the World" childrens' program.
Cajun Music for Kids brings a fascination for children's ears by the selection of instruments played, which include the rub board, accordions, tit fere (triangle), fiddle, spoons, drums, guitars, flute and saxophone. Also, Papillion is accompanied by many children's voices to delight and excite.
Another component of the CD that is truly wonderful is the French spoken and deciphering of the French phrases. Cajuns and Creoles have a saying, "You can still find the joy of life no matter how hard your life may be." Receive the message and thrive in energy of Cajun Music for Kids.
Linda Ronstadt, We Ran (Elektra 1998) - Linda Ronstadt returns to her pop roots with We Ran, her 31st LP. With backing from a group of seasoned stage hands, We Ran is a sweet return to form.
Since her first recording with Stone Poneys in 1967, Linda Ronstadt has explored the contours of American pop, and has delved into Broadway, Mexican, and big band styles. Her last album, Dedicated to the One I Love, was a gentle foray into children's lullabies, built around the unique sound of the glass armonica.
We Ran finds Ronstadt working with acclaimed rock producer/engineer Glyn Johns (who has recorded with The Rolling Stones, Who, and Eric Clapton), and taking advantage of such songwriting talents as Bruce Springsteen ("If I Should Fall Behind"), John Hiatt ("When We Ran" and "Icy Blue Heart") and Doc Pomus ("Cry 'Til My Tears Run Dry").
Ronstadt also recruited some of L.A.'s finest musicians, including guitarist Mike Campbell, bassist Howie Epstein, and keyboardist Benmont Tench (all from Tom Petty's band), former Eagle, Bernie Leadon, and long-time friend, Waddy Wachtel.
Ronstadt has become a studio perfectionist in recent years, but relied heavily on Glyn Johns on this production. Admits Linda, "I usually control my records down to the very last detail, for better or worse, and am involved in every stage of the production. So this was a very interesting way for me to work."
The standout track is a cover of Bob Dylan's, "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues." Originally made into a hit by Judy Collins, Ronstadt finds fresh energy in this song, which shows the strength of Dylan's mid-60's songwriting.
It's not likely that We Ran will dominate the pop charts like Hasten Down the Wind. Yet, Linda remains an accomplished stylist, and the new album is a welcome slice.
Carrie Newcomer, My True Name (Philo 1998) - Singer/songwriter Carrie Newcomer has developed a strong folk following. With her fifth CD, My True Name, newcomer employs a full band to develop her pop themes.
Newcomer recorded her first two albums with an acoustic trio known as Stone Soup. Now working with a band that includes Jemey Reid on drums and percussion, Jeff Hedbeck on bass, Slats Klug on piano and accordion, and Keith Skooglund on electric guitar and bango, My True Name has a fuller sound.
The new album features full studio arrangements, such as the pop-styled, "This Long" and "Moon Over Tucson," as well as more spare, acoustic recordings such as "The Length of My Arms" and "My True Name."
Newcomer makes "New Age Folk," in the vein of the Southwestern recordings by Eliza Gilkyson. A pleasant and engaging songstress, Carrie Newcomer deserves her acclaim. Though I don't care for the Whistler's Mother-type picture on the cover.
- Randy Krbechek © 1998
Check CD Shakedown for Weekly
Reviews of Music CDs and New Albums