There's lots to like in the first family music album from the Bay Area group Crosspulse Percussion Ensemble. For example, the "Caravan"-esque sounds of "Body Beat." The joyful take on the children's classic "Little Liza Jane." The earthiness of the percussion in the eternally oddness "Coocoo."
These songs are the product of years of singing and playing these songs in front of tens of thousands of kids, and it has the energetic attitude you'd expect to hear from a group experienced in performing live.
The song selection is appreciably diverse, with selections from around the world. It is akin to a Dan Zanes album (or maybe Elizabeth Mitchell album) without all the amplification.
In fact, it's that comparative lack of diversity, sonically, that may hold the album back from being totally embraced by some of the audiences the Ensemble certainly hopes to reach. It is not necessarily an easy album to listen to in the back seat of the minivan. I think the performances -- watching these musicians create music out of their mouths, bodies, and percussion instruments and rarely anything stringed or melodic -- would be far more powerful live.
The album is most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 9. You can hear some selections from the 42-minute album here.
This review makes it sound like I enjoyed the album less than I did. I liked it -- maybe I just wanted to like it more. This definitely isn't electric power-pop, and families only seeking that candy-coated sheen should stay far away. But families with Ella Jenkins, Dan Zanes, and Putumayo CDs in their collection will probably find this a nice combination of them all. Recommended.