Always a little bit under the radar, Los Angeles' The Hollow Trees were brave (or foolish) enough to release a non-holiday-themed disk in the month of December. Now that it's January and our trees and candles are packed away, we can turn our attention back to anthropomorphized animals bringing joy kids everywhere.
I'm talking, of course, about the residents of Nelsonville, the headquarters of a whole bunch of cartoon animals, who make their third appearance on the recently-released Wacky's Tackle. The mythology of Nelsonville has never been particularly overt on the Hollow Trees' albums, and I think you probably could've wiped all traces of Nelsonville from the packaging and not really be confused. What you'd be left with is another nifty collection of folk tunes, some original, some more classic, from the large group of musicians Greg McIlvaine and Laure Steenberge have pulled together. I like their energetic take on the classics "The More We Are Together" (first made popular by Raffi) and "Funiculi Funicula," both full of life. At other times, such as on "Free Little Bird," they employ a bluegrass sound. And every so often they range further afield -- my two favorite tracks are the missing Beach Boys track "Barefoot Beach" (if it isn't, it should've been) and a very jazzy "Boll Weevil."
The album is most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 7. You can hear samples of all the tracks at the album's CD Baby page or hear/download selected tracks here. Wacky's Tackle is another solid album from a group who themselves have flown a bit under the radar. I hope it doesn't stay that way, and the new album deserves a bit of a spotlight. Recommended.