In early April I stumbled across Lesley Kernochan, a Colorado-based musician who around New Year's released her first album for families, A Day in the Life of a Boogaleeboo. I'd listened most of the songs on her website, and wanted to hear the whole thing through. Like is often the case with artists who record for adults and then decide to make music for kids, I had this feeling -- mixed with fear, perhaps -- that she'd recorded this album without enough thought of how to get the album out to the kindie world at large and that it might land like the proverbial tree in the forest without a sound.
So let me start by saying that I'm utterly and unequivocally charmed by this album. It's got a sense of wide-eyed wonder at and celebration of the human experience. The album kicks off with a jazzy Broadway strut, "What Is The Purpose of My Eyebrows" (which she describes as "like two islands stranded in the middle of the sea which is my face"), complete with bassoon, flute, and bassoon. "What's Gonna Happen Today?" is a gentle chamber pop tune featuring vibraphone that even gets a bit meta ("I didn't know / That I was gonna sing this song with you."). And if that's all too lovey-dovey for you, the next song explains "The Cycle of Poo," which, yes, celebrates that even gross things "deserve a hearty toast."
So the album proceeds, with Kernochan tearing fearlessly through musical styles such as the gentle lullaby ("Good Morning Everything," which features some lovely vocalizing), '40s and '50s big-band ("Me"), and even beatboxing /hair-metal combo ("I Love To..."). And she's recruited an able set of guest musicians (the "Flying Foxes") to give her songs (even more) wings. It's like a cabaret show for kids -- seriously, this needs to happen -- and the comparisons to artists like Regina Spektor and Nellie McKay in their wide-ranging musical approach are apropos. (The closest kindie equivalent would probably be Lori Henriques.) But I don't want you to get the impression it's showy all the time -- some of the best tracks here are the gentlest, like "Hugs Are Awesome" and "Thank You for Singing with Me," which employees a small chorus of kids to good effect.
Kids ages 3 through 8 will probably most enjoy the album. You can listen to album tracks at Lesley's music page.
So in late April I was at Kindiefest and who should I meet while I was there but Kernochan herself. I hadn't known she was going to attend when I reached out to her earlier in the month, but I was very happy to see her there because it was more proof she's taking the long view on making music for families and that A Day in the Life of a Boogaleeboo won't be the last we hear from her. Welcome to the fold, Lesley. It's a lovely and joyous debut, one I expect to be on my Top 10 album list for 2013. Highly recommended.
[Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the album for possible review.]