Review: A Trio of Sleepy Disks

Time once again for another stroll -- a long, langurous stroll we might not actually complete because we're so tired -- down lullaby lane. The last couple times I did this, I reviewed seven lullaby albums, but maybe because I'm only doing this a year after my last list, I only have three to add. Let's get started... you're probably tired anyway.

InnocentWhenYouDream.jpgFirst up is my favorite of the trio, New England singer-songwriter Mark Erelli's Innocent When You Dream, originally released in 2007 and back in print once again. Like many lullaby disks these days, it's not a collection of traditional (or even standard) lullabies; rather, the album includes songs by "some of [Erelli's] favorite writers that have a certain tenderness to them," and even subtitles the album "Lullabies and Love Songs." Which is why you get folks like Tom Waits, Tom Petty, Wilco, and Shawn Colvin getting covered here. (I already said how much I liked Erelli's cover of Wilco's "My Darling"; the song is originally from this album.) They are songs of comfort and reassurance, so, yes, lullabies, if not ones with easy-to-remember lyrics. Sonically, the album is perfectly pitched, as if Erelli were sitting in the corner of your nursery or around the campfire, singing to you and/or your child, accompanying himself on guitar. It avoids the common lullaby album mistake of being so overwrought that it'll keep everyone awake. Listen to a couple tracks from the 30-minute album here. Innocent When You Dream is a lovely little album and will soothe all but the most savage beast.

A couple more albums after the jump.
MidnightLullaby.jpgNashville singer-songwriter Jane Roman Pitt's 2009 album Midnight Lullaby is another album getting another new push here in 2011. Compared to Erelli's album, Pitt's album definitely has a shinier sound. In fact, 2 or 3 tracks in, I was afraid that it was one of those albums that was "lullaby" in name only and not in execution. But starting with her take on the Dixie Chicks' "Lullaby" and Tom Waits' "Midnight Lullaby," the album calms down considerably to the point where I could envision actually using this at lullaby-time. If you listen to Pitt's version of Wilco's "My Darling" (listen to tracks from the 37-minute album here and compare that to Erelli's version, I think they each give a fair representation of their albums as a whole. Pick the one you like the most. I may prefer Erelli's album, but Midnight Lullaby offers some elegant charms of its own. Recommended.

SweetWaterChild.jpgFinally, Sweet Water Child - Lullabies for Getty is an album of lullabies from Alex and Angela Dezen. Alex Dezen is the singer-songwriter behind The Damnwells, and on this album he's recorded with his wife a series of impassioned lullaby-ish love songs. The urgency is not surprising given that it's a fundraiser the Getty Owl Foundation, named for a young girl called Getty Storm and who is fighting Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a thus-far untreatable and fatal disease. For the most part it's just Alex and his piano, singing songs of love that sound like they come out of a half-remembered dream. It doesn't quite sound like a standard lullaby album -- it sounds more like something you'd play at 2 in the morning after you've spent an hour or two trying to get a sick baby to sleep. That's got to be one of the weirder sentences of praise I've ever written for an album, but it feels right. (It's a feeling that I would guess families fighting SMA have quite a bit.) You can listen to the 25-minute album here or stream it below. Sweet Water Child is an even more untraditional lullaby album than the other two mentioned here, but I think not a few folks will find its slightly-ragged, insistent sound appealing and its cause worthy. Recommended.

[Disclosure: I received copies of Mark Erelli's and Jane Roman Pitt's albums for possible review.]