Review in Brief: High Meadow Songs - Various Artists

HighMeadowSongs.jpgHigh Meadow Songs is a collection of tracks from artists in New York's Hudson Valley to benefit High Meadow Arts, a local non-profit providing arts education for children and families.

When getting a bunch of local musicians together for a benefit album, it doesn't hurt if your definition of "local musicians" includes Elizabeth Mitchell, Dog on Fleas, and Medeski, Martin & Wood. And if the CD just consisted of the tracks from those artists or collaborators, you'd have a pretty nifty 9-track album. Dog on Fleas turn in a very Fleas-ian (and local) "Buffalo Gals" and sound a bit like The Band on "Jenny Jenkins." Mitchell covers Jane Siberry's sweet "When Spring Comes," while MMW offer their reworking of "All Around the Kitchen" (accented with kids' voices) from their upcoming Let's Go Everywhere CD.

Luckily there are a number of other tracks worth it for someone who's not from the area -- for example, Rebecca Coupe Franks & Her Groovemobile offer an original jazzy instrumental, "Ella Skye," and Abby Hollander and a whole bunch of High Meadow students perform Mark Morgenstern's story-in-song "Hudson River Girl." The album isn't so much an album of "kids music" as much as it is an album of kid-friendly folk music, "folk" defined rather broadly, as the album also includes a song from a musical comedy based on Beowulf ("True True Friend") and a couple of tracks from drummers Fode Sissoko and Toby Stover. As with any benefit album, especially a 65-minute one such as this one, the quality (or interest) of the tracks is not uniformly high, but the high points outweigh the rest.

You can hear the first three tracks in their entirety here or listen to samples at the album's CDBaby page. It's probably most appropriate for kids ages 5 and up. High Meadow Songs will appeal most to fans of Dog on Fleas and Elizabeth Mitchell, but I think any listener (or family) who's a fan of folk music will find many pleasures here. It's a testament to one particular community's creative vibrancy. Recommended.