Itty-Bitty Review: In a Heartbeat - Laura Doherty


Chicago-based musician Laura Doherty is one of a number of kids musicians who should probably be more well-known nationally than they are.  Doherty makes the same kind of gentle folk-pop for preschoolers that has helped make Raffi and Laurie Berkner superstars, but without all the attention they receive.

I would be surprised if fans of Raffi and Berkner -- no matter if they're 4 years old or the minder of such 4 year olds -- didn't recognize in Doherty's music many of the same things that give those two a timeless appeal.  On her new album In a Heartbeat, Doherty uses her warm, inviting voice to sing simple (in a good way) songs about ocean creatures (the wonderful leadoff track "I'm a Little Fish"), feelings ("It's OK To Be Shy," "Butterfly"), and making music ("Electric Guitar" and "Drum Kit," the latter of which features Wilco's Glenn Kotche on yes, the drums).  Doherty and producer Rich Rankin have surrounded themselves with musicians who give the songs are solid musical footing, unfussy but sophisticated.

The album is most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 7.  There are many kindie artists who are producing (wonderful) kids music that stretch the boundaries of the form in topic and musical approach -- Doherty is not traveling this path.  Which is perfectly OK.  This is reassuring music and what it lacks in "edge" it makes up for with the warm fuzzies.  I like it a lot, and there's no reason why your favorite preschooler with a pig on her head wouldn't groove to the music here, too.  Definitely recommended.