The annoyance some parents feel upon hearing the classics of kids' music isn't due to the melodies themselves. The melodies, in fact, because they've survived for centuries in some cases, are some of the best ever. Parents' anger, rather, is a result of repetition and, sometimes, poor execution. The littlest things, like providing the barest minimum of interesting accompaniment and slightly different (but real) instrumention, can push the date of the inevitable "I can't take this anymore!" way out into the future.
So it is with The Littlest Star, the debut album from Meadows. The band is a side project from musician and composer Keith Kenniff and his wife Hollie (who also perform together in their indie-rock band Mint Julep). Most of the tracks are renditions of standard wiggleworm-y classics like "Shoofly Don't Bother Me," "King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O," and "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." The arrangements are muted and tasteful, lots of acoustic guitar and piano. Hollie Kenniff gets the majority of vocals here; her relaxed voice induces calm and fits the simple tunes perfectly. Their banjo-assisted take on "You Are My Sunshine" is particularly lovely. The originals (e.g., "Flutter Like a Butterfly," "Three Kangaroos") are pleasant enough, but tend toward the cute end of the spectrum and I found myself preferring the standards to these.
The 33-minute album is most appropriate for kids ages 0 through 5. You can hear samples at their homepage, but to listen to fill tracks, check out the Unseen Music YouTube channel. You'll probably find Meadows' sound as reminiscent of Elizabeth Mitchell's (minus the inspired cover song choices). I'd go with Mitchell's CDs over The Littlest Star, but the fact that I'm even bothering to compare the two speaks highly of the Meadows' ability to make childhood classics listenable for a long time. Recommended.
Disclosure: I received a (digital) copy of the album for possible review.