Review: Here We Go - Melissa

HereWeGo.jpgIf I had a dollar for every time my name was spelled incorrectly, we'd have replaced the flooring in our house long ago. So I understand the decision by Los Angeles-based musician Melissa Szilagyi to drop her surname and perform simply as Melissa. It's also very pop-star-like. Her debut kids' music album Here We Go (2006), to be released next week, is 29 minutes of preschooler-friendly acoustic pop that sounds not a little like kids' music star Laurie Berkner. Whimsical stories ("Have You Ever Seen?"), interactive songs (the sea horses counting down from 5 to 1 on "The Seahorse Song"), and subjects of great concern to 3- and 4-year-olds ("Going on a Trip," "Chocolate Ice Cream.") Add to that Melissa's warm voice and sharp additional instrumentation (guitar, mandolin, harmonica, assorted percussion) from New York-based musician Beau Elliott, and the album is a perfectly good little collection of songs. The originals are well-crafted; the few traditional songs are innovatively arranged. It's not quite at Laurie's level, though, for a couple reasons. First, Berkner's songs have a river of good humor flowing through them; these songs, though by no means humorless, don't have enough of those moments of loopiness that keep parents sane while listening to Berkner's music. Second, you realize how important Berkner's band -- the bass and the piano -- are to her albums. Here We Go would have benefitted greatly from even a couple songs with a full band. The album is most appropriate for kids age 2 through 7. Listen to clips here or here. I'm recommending this -- it's a well-done and enjoyable album. (And I'm hoping Melissa finds even more talented musicians for her second album!)