Review: Bottle of Sunshine - Milkshake

Children's artists can walk a fine line between sweet and sappy. Childhood is full of wonder, and trying to convey that can lead musicians into mushy-headedness.

For the most part, Milkshake avoids the Head of Mushy on their second album, Bottle of Sunshine. Milkshake, a duo from Baltimore, has two strong assets -- the sweet vocals of Lisa Mathews and the melodic and occasionally crunchy guitars of Mikel Gehl. Backed by a full band, Bottle contains a broad variety of children's pop, uptempo and down-, that does a good job of showcasing those assets.

The best songs on the album are the ones that stay away from mushiness. "Woo-woo" is a fun pop song leavened with humor about playing underwater ("If you find lost treasure on the ocean floor / please bring it back up to me.") "Boom Boom" is a country-tinged tune about dancing. And while "Book of Dreams" is a sweet pop song, elegantly produced, "Sleepytown" is a simple album-closer. (Is there some sort of union rule requiring closing a kids' music album with a slow, sleep-related song? Just wondering out loud here.)

As someone whose tolerance for mushy is perhaps lower than many, some tunes don't work as well for me. While I liked "Book of Dreams," "One Wish" reached too hard for the sense of wonder for my tastes and was fairly bland. And while I'm not against namechecking one's own band in song, which Milkshake does twice here, it has to be really catchy (paging Morningwood to the review, paging Morningwood to the review), which isn't quite the case here. (Still, I could see those two songs being fun for preschoolers in concert.)

The album is best for kids age 3 through 7. It's available at the usual online suspects. While I recommend the album, if you like me have a low tolerance for mushy, you may want to listen to some samples online before committing to the CD.