I sometimes get asked for baby shower gift suggestions from folks who don't have kids themselves but who know my gig. Because it'll be a little while before the kids are ready for the more raucous and diverse music targeted at the preschool crowd, I limit my suggestions to a handful of lullaby albums. I think I'm going to add Little Boots from Vermont's Brendan Taaffe to the list.
Conceived as a gift of sorts to Taaffe's nephew, it's a quiet collection of traditional folk songs, Irish tunes, and originals that blend instrumentation both traditional (guitar) and not so from a North American sense (mbira, used to particularly good effect on the leadoff track, Pete Seeger's "Well May the World Go"). Seeger is a big influence here -- he endorses Taaffe's effort and gets not only the leadoff track but the album closer, too. It's a little reminiscent of Dean Jones' Napper Delight disk in its instrumentation and that it's not afraid to step lively occasionally. If A Prairie Home Companion did a kids show, this would be the music they'd play throughout.
As a lullaby album (for the most part), it's clearly targeted at kids ages 0 through 3, but even more so at their parents, who could use a calming moment or two. You can hear (and download) four of the album's tracks here and sample the rest of the album here. (One other note in favor of its suitability for gifting -- the album's cover art was done by Dan Zanes' partner in artistic crime Donald Saaf.) Little Boots is a sweet little disk your family may find itself listening long after you've packed up the crib. Recommended.