Review: Quiet Time - Raffi


Raffi generates such strong feelings in people, that it's almost impossible to review the April 2006 release of Quiet Time without addressing some knotty issues. I'm not going to tackle those knotty issues here, but here are 3 "nots."

1. This is not a new Raffi album.
2. This is not a Raffi greatest hits album.
3. This is not a bad album.

This is not a new Raffi album -- You know how you get excited about an episode of a TV show without an "R" behind it, thinking, "hey, this is a new episode!," then get disappointed to find out it's nothing but a "clip" show? That was what I felt on a small level when I realized that this wasn't an album of new Raffi songs; in fact, every single track on here is previously released.

This is not a Raffi greatest hits album -- As the title suggests, Quiet Time is laid-back and calming. So even though the 31-minute CD draws from just about every single album of new material Raffi has released over the past 30 years, it's hardly a "greatest hits" collection. (Which, Raffi's multi-CD collections and concert albums aside, he could sorely use.)

This is not a bad album -- Having outlined what this is not, let's talk briefly, then, about what it is. The album cover calls these "songs for a pause, a cuddle, or a nap," and I think that's a pretty accurate description. Although these are slow, relaxing songs, they are not, for the most part, lullabies. They're gentle songs, a good soundtrack for quiet times and activities. Raffi has a clear and wonderful voice, which serves these songs well. He is a great interpreter of traditional child's music. Your appreciation of the Raffi originals may vary. I found "Spring Flowers" to be a soothing song in which the vocals are almost as much of an instrument as the instruments themselves (it certainly doesn't sound like the music he recorded 20 years before). On the other hand, his "Blessed Be" is overly precious to me, and I find Raffi most appealing precisely when he's not being overly precious. Again, your mileage may vary.

I think the album will be most enjoyed by kids ages 1 through 5. Released by Rounder, the album's available at most online and the usual retail suspects.

This is not the first album I'd recommend for someone looking to start off with Raffi. But for someone looking for pleasant background music to a half-hour of downtime for their child, Quiet Time is a good choice.