Artist: The Whirlygigs
Album: Greetings from Cloud 9
Age Range: Ages 3 through 6
Description: If you look back to the beginning of time… or, at least, the Time Before Kindie (i.e., 1999 or so), there were a lot more folk albums for kids, enough that one could subdivide them into subgenres. Artists such as Taj Mahal and Buckwheat Zydeco offered a bluesier form of folk for the wee ones.
Those bluesy paths have become a little overgrown from too light use over, but Massachusetts artist Keith Wasserman (aka Mr. Whirly) is trying to make his own way. On his debut full-length album, he mixes a little bit of blues with an earthy folk sound. "Lookin' Out the Window" is a straight-up call-and-response blues while "Portabello Mushroom," with its kitchen sink percussion (not literally, but it wouldn't surprise me if it did) and nimble upright piano sound, is a conga strut. The song subjects are grounded in everyday language and topics ("Tickle Machine" and "How Was Your Day") but also explore imaginative ideas such as on album closer "Sittin' on a Cloud." (You can listen to the entire 35-minute album here.)
Greetings from Cloud 9 definitely has a retro sound, but it's not burnt in amber, either. For families looking for a mellower kindie sound reminiscent of those Taj Mahal records (or perhaps a little bit like fellow New Englander Alastair Moock), this Whirlygigs album is worth exploring. Recommended.