Singer-songwriting Charlie Hope has a bright, clear voice that appeals to many ears. In attitude, temperament, and vocal quality, I've previously compared her to Raffi, and I think the analogy still holds.
On her recent release, Sing As We Go!, Hope continues with the formula that has won her fans on both sides of the Canadian-United States border. Take a batch traditional songs, mix in a handful of poppy folk originals, add a dash of kindie royalty, and stir. Hope's voice and producer Dean Jones' unfussy musical choices give a fresh spin to the traditionals. A simple touch like the toy piano on the old camp chestnut "I Love the Mountains" helps give the song new life to the adult listener who may have heard the song more times than they probably should. While some of the titles like "When the Ice Worm Nests Again" and "Little Rooster" might not sound familiar, the melodies probably will, with Hope occasionally writing some new lyrics for the songs.
The originals here are lovely -- from the lost '70s AM-radio tune "With You" (co-written and performed by Hope and Gustafer Yellowgold's Morgan Taylor) to Jones' "Harmony" (a duet between Hope and Elizabeth Mitchell) and Hope's own gentle ode to the parent-child bond "From You" -- and feel just as timeless as the actual classics they're next to. (And speaking of kindie royalty, Molly Ledford, Randy Kaplan, and Chris Ballew aka Caspar Babypants also appear on the album.)
The album is most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 7. You can listen to extended clips from each song on the album here. Also, I happen to find the album art here particularly delightful, an artful mix of hand-drawn, computer-drawn, and knitted illustration from Zooglobble favorite Charlotte Blacker.
I first listened to this album months ago, set it aside as real life took over, and when I came back to it recently in preparation for writing this review, I was struck by just how delightful this is. It's traditional but not musty, sweet but not cloying, engaging but not pandering. It's a gem of an album, definitely worthy of a comparison to Raffi. Highly recommended.