Let's get the song out of the way -- was there a better song this year that spoke to how kids and parents really interact than "Nerves?" The answer, in case you hadn't guessed, is no. And even though the hard-charging chorus is supposed to be the voice of the child narrator, most parents would probably admit they've felt that their children were getting on their nerves at some point during the week. (And the rest are lying.)
While "Nerves" is the song that stands out the most on Celebrate the Difference, the first kids album from Texas-based singer-songwriter Terri Hendrix, there are definitely other songs worth hearing. One of my favorites is the sweet, Tejano-styled "Lluvia de Estrellas," sung in English and Spanish (natch). But as shown by "Nerves," the angular techno-pop of "Invisible Friend," or the brass-band-accompanied "Yeah Yeah Yeah," Hendrix is willing to try out all sorts of song styles. (Sometimes the array of styles is almost dizzying.) Well-known Texas musician Lloyd Maines (who co-wrote many of the songs) accompanies her throughout, along with a number of other musicians making occasional appearances.
Lyrically, Hendrix's preaching of self-confidence in songs such as "Get Your Goat On," "First Place," and others tackles a subject that has been oddly left mostly untouched in kids' music. And as shown by "Nerves" and "I Want to be Your Friend" (a song about a new kid in the neighborhood), Hendrix can remember how kids think and feel.
While appropriate for all ages, I think kids ages 5 through 10 will be most receptive to the lyrics. You can listen to sound clips here.
Celebrate the Difference is at times almost too wide-ranging in its musical attack, so that as an album it's not as unified as others. But there are a number of great songs on here and the enthusiasm Hendrix brings to the material helps to underscore her messages of self-confidence. For that alone, the album is recommended.