The first time I heard Renee and Jeremy's It's A Big World more than 2 1/2 years ago, I instantly recognized how unique its sound was (read the review). Even if I thought it was just shy of being a timeless classic, it was definitely (and still is) a very important album in the resurgent genre, a completely modern lullaby album that was so intimate it sounded like it was recorded in the nursery. (Which it was, incidentally.)
But if lullaby albums are about the parents, the follow-up albums are about the kids, which brings us to C'mon, the recently-released second album from the duo of Renee Stahl and Jeremy Toback. Whereas the first album was designed to put everyone at ease, C'mon is designed for, well, if not dancing, then at least bobbing of heads. At times, the album is the grooviest thing you're going to hear until Sly and the Family Stone release their family music album, but it also retains just enough of the raw intimacy that gave It's a Big World such a distinctive sound (for example, Toback's "here we go" at the very start of the leadoff track, "Share"). But if you're looking for another hushed rendition of "Three Little Birds," you'll be surprised by the '80s pop and synthesized strings of songs like "Watch Where You're Going."
The songs are anchored by Stahl's beautiful voice, but Stahl and Toback duet more on this album than on its predecessor, usually to great effect ("Wishing Well" not only features Stahl and Toback duetting, but also multiple layers of Stahl's vocals). Fans of the first album might prefer the lullaby "Is It Really Any Wonder?." But for me the album's standout track is ELO-meets-the-playground "Mama Papa Love," which neatly turns the line "Mama loves you so much, baby / What you gonna do with that love? / Papa loves you so much, baby / What you gonna do with that love?" into "Baby loves you so much, mama, what you gonna do with that love?" It speaks straight to both parent and child and soars.
I'm a bigger fan of the music than the lyrics, which are generally simple, big on repeated choruses, and directed at kids with fairly obvious topics -- sharing ("Share") or delayed gratification ("Right Now"). The album is slightly more than the sum of its parts, as over its 33-minute run it sets up its groovy mood and sticks to it. The songs here are topically most appropriate for kids ages 2 through 6. You can get the physical copy exclusively (for the moment) at Barnes and Noble or digitally here.
Families who are fans of the first album should have no problem getting into C'mon after a listen or two. Neither should listeners new to the duo. It's a sweet treat of a disk. Definitely recommended.
Disclaimer:Renee & Jeremy provided me with a copy of the album for possible review.