Review: First Time for Everything - John Carlin

FirstTimeForEverything.jpgOK, let's get the cover out of the way. Yes, it's bizarre. No, I can't explain it. And, yes, the album inside is better.

Now that I've got that out of the way, let's get to the album itself. First Time for Everything is the debut kids' CD from the New York-based musician John Carlin. Carlin, like many kids' artists, had a career as a musician for adults, then started teaching music classes for kids. And, like many of those artists, his debut album is a very DIY affair, with Carlin playing every instrument. What distinguishes Everything from many other DIY albums are the flourishes of musical diversity within.

The album starts off with the guitar-pop of "Eliza" and "Run Around," the latter song about how good it feels just to, well, run around. "Bein' a Dog" borrows some of melodic riff from "Time Warp, while the title track is a sauntering number featuring loose raspy vocals from Carlin. While I liked the original cuts, perhaps the nicest touches are the reworkings of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (featuring a musical interlude with acoustic guitar that's considerably different from, but very complimentary to, the original melody) and "This Little Light of Mine," which adds a small taste of a New Orleans brass band. The downside to the disk is that the production sometimes muddies the vocals (especially on Carlin's originals), making it difficult to understand them. It's something that certainly can be fixed on the next go-round.

I'm gonna peg the 35-minute album as best for kids ages 3 through 7. You can hear clips of the songs here.

By no means is First Time for Everything reinventing the kids' album. It's just an album with some nice new pop tunes with kid-appropriate lyrics and some old tunes presented with enough dash to make listening to the familiar melodies fresh. But if that's enough for you (and it's certainly enough for a lot of people), you could certainly do much worse. Recommended.