I get lots of CDs, of course, and just like sometimes you'll see a whole of TV shows suddenly appear with the same theme, earlier this year I got a raft of lullaby/sleeptime CDs. I've collected some of the more interesting ones from that rush, plus a few slightly older ones that got overlooked the first time around.
That's right, folks, seven CDs. At least one of them's gonna put you (or your kid) to sleep but in, like, a good way. The list starts after the jump.
Cher and Gene Klosner's 2007 album Stardust Lullaby is a 2-CD collection of lullabies both traditional and original. It's the most lushly produced album here, and the wide-ranging instrumentation sounds great. I actually found it a little too lush for my taste; the first CD in particular seems a bit too peppy for relaxation. The second CD is quieter, and the last track, "All the Alphabets Are Going to Sleep," a simple song Cher and her husband used with their kids, quite lovely. If, however, you do like a little more production in your lullabies, this'll be a good bet. Listen to sound clips here and here.
Paul Cuneo's 1999 collection Rest Here is a collection of original lullabies, recorded primarily with voice and piano. There are some nice touches (the song "The Night Train" has a definite "train" sound to it) and some intriguing songs (the otherworldly-sounding "Jeremiah Lights the Fire." While the vocal/piano combination tires somewhat after 66 minutes, the gentleness and echoes of more traditional songs will appeal to the connoisseur of albums best played at 2 AM. (Listen to clips here.)
Longtime friend of Zooglobble Eric Herman released Snail's Pace in 2007, a collection of mostly previously-released songs. This isn't so much a lullaby album but, as the name implies, a "downtime" album, one you'd play when your kid needs a little break from the day. The collection includes a small reworking of Herman's classic "The Elephant Song" plus other gentle tunes. Some of the songs may cross the line between gentle and saccharine depending on where you put that line but on the whole, the songs are restrained without sacrificing all of their liveliness. (Listen to clips here.)
The recently-released Putumayo collection African Dreamland will be, because of the language barrier, the CD least likely to be sung along with. To me, it also sounded a lot more pensive and wistful -- it just seemed like there were a lot more songs in the minor key. That's not a bad thing, by any means, it just gives the album, which includes a wonderful Ladysmith Black Mambazo tune, a somewhat different tone than most of the albums here. (Listen to clips here.)
Lullabies and Wildflowers is the debut collection from Melissa Errico, and it takes a jazzier approach than any of the albums here. "Mockingbird" and "Hushabye" (AKA "All the Pretty Horses") sound like they'd be at home either at 11 PM in a dimly-lit nightclub or at 11 PM in a dimly-lit nursery during a nighttime feeding. Some of the songs are a little too uptempo ("Wildflowers") for a lullaby album, and it's definitely not underproduced, but the vocals are a highlight. (Listen to clips here and here.)
As with the Putumayo CD, the fact that many of the songs on World Music For Little Ears are not in English may make it harder for the native English-speaking family to get into the CD. Which isn't to say there aren't some wonderful songs here. The album is actually a sampler CD of songs from Ellipsis Arts' various "For Little Ears" CDs, so if you find your family grooving more to, say, the Latin-inflected or Celtic tunes, you'll know exactly where to go for your next multicultural lullaby CD. A good quiet-time album. (Listen to clips here.)
Finally, I happen to put the first album of lullabies from Alabama's Mae Robertson, All Through the Night (review) at the top of a very short list of essential lullaby albums. (It looms large over all of these CDs.) If I don't think its followup, 1997's The Sun Upon the Lake Is Low, is quite in the same league, that's expecting too much. Robertson and musical partner Don Jackson have put together another album of gentle lullabyes familiar (the sweet "Michael Row the Boat Ashore") and unexpected (Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game"). Even if it's just a little more produced than its predecessor, the folky arrangements (with hints of Irish and Celtic music) and Robertson's beautiful voice still make this a lovely album. (Listen to clips here.)