Review: Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well - Jennifer Gasoi

I'm glad Canada is back.

Not that they ever left, mind you -- they've always been our cozy yet expansive neighbor to the north -- but in a kids music sense, there's been a resurgence of new artists from the Land of Raffi.  Yes, Sharon, Lois & Bram may have a new iOS app, but I'm talking about a generation of musicians who may have grown up listening to them and Raffi, folks like Charlie Hope, Bobs and LoLo, and Splash 'n' Boots, not to mention some even more independent-minded artists like Duplex.

In onse sense, I'm not sure whether to add Jennifer Gasoi to that list, because she started making kids music before any of those newcomers started recording.  Her debut album Songs For You came out way back in early 2004.  But it took her more than 8 years to release the follow-up, Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well.  That might hold the record for the largest delay in the modern kindie era.

Well, eight years is an awfully long time to wait, but... it's a pretty fun album.  In an era when a lot of kindie music is more rock (and alterna-rock) than pop, Throw a Penny... is a throwback, a pop album in the old sense of the word.  The album shows off Gasoi's singing chops, a crystal-clear voice with just enough warmth to be inviting.  From the very start, with songs like "Little Blue Car," "Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well," and "I'm a Bubble," Gasoi writes happy songs for happy kids.  In her orchestration and target audience, she's like a jazzier Laurie Berkner (though without the pure hook-writing genius Berkner possesses).  Sometimes it all comes off a little too happy -- I would have liked a few more tracks like the atmospheric album closer "Red Balloon" -- but your tastes in that regard may vary.

Gasoi produced the album herself, and despite the presence of more than 20 musicians (including kids), the music is all done with a very light touch -- I would describe it as brushed, not polished, nickel.  It's a lot like what I might expect to hear how Dean Jones would produce such an album (that's a compliment).  Which isn't to say that it's simple production -- I can't imagine how many musical tracks and loops were in the song "Purple Man," about some dance lessons (don't ask) -- but it never sounds labored.

The 46-minute album will be most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 7.  You can hear 3 songs from the album here.

Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well is about as happy and sunny as you'd expect from the title.   Unless your family strongly prefers their music with more of a rock edge, you'll probably find a lot to enjoy here.  (Fans of Laurie Berkner, Charlie Hope, and Laura Doherty, should especially take note.)  The album reflects well on Gasoi's efforts in putting the album together, to the extent that I strongly hope we're not waiting 'til Fall 2021 for her next album.  Definitely recommended.