So let's drain this review of Hope's latest album, Songs, Stories and Friends 2: Where the Path Will Wind of any tension whatsoever and say that I like it lot, but that your family's enjoyment of it will depend on what you expect from your audio entertainment.
This new album, Hope's fifth, takes a slightly different path (pun unintended, I swear) than her previous album, the delightful Sing As We Go! and instead echoes that album's predecessor, Songs, Stories and Friends: Let's Go Play!. Unlike the more song-focused Sing, this album throws more stories and friends into the mix, all in service of an overall nature theme. There are a couple audio games of "I Spy," some spoken word poems, and -- as always -- Hope's mother, who gives "The Three Little Pigs" a far less confrontational telling.
Now I'm always the biggest fan of Hope's voice and songwriting, so my favorite selections on the album are the songs, especially the traditional folk song "Barges," the sweet original "Like an Evergreen," and another original, "If I Were a Bird," which somehow manages to combine both flute and a soaring chorus. Producer Michael Langford surrounds Hope's lovely-as-ever voice with tasteful arrangements, folk-y but not stuffy.
The 46-minute album will be of most interest to kids ages 2 through 6 -- you can listen to a medley of songs here.
Where the Path Will Wind is essentially an audio magazine, an aural equivalent, perhaps, to her Sing As We Go! video series. If you're looking for a purely musical experience, therefore, this may not fit those expectations. But will it engage your favorite preschooler or kindergartener? You bet. Definitely recommended.
Note: I received a copy of this album for possible review.