Courtney Freed’s New Album Shows Throughout It Was Worth The Wait

Courtesy: Jazz Promo Services

More than a dozen years after the release of her then latest album, Happy Little Bluebird: The Music of Harold Arlen, singer Courtney Freed returned this week with her new album, Big Crazy Love.  Released independently, Freed’s new album will appeal to a wide range of audiences through its blend of originals and covers.  ‘Ancient History,’ one of the album’s early entries, is among the most notable of the record’s originals.  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Lilac Wine,’ which comes late in the album’s 41-minute run time, is among the most notable of the album’s featured covers.  It will be examined a little later.  ‘There’s A Mornin’ Coming,’ which opens the album, is yet another of the album’s notable originals.  It will also be examined later.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album overall a strong new offering from Freed.

Big Crazy Love, the latest album from jazz singer Courtney Freed, is an enjoyable new offering from the up-and-coming vocalist.  Its blend of originals and covers makes that clear.  Among the most notable of the originals is ‘Ancient History.’  The song stands out in part because of its musical arrangement.  The arrangement is a wonderfully light composition that is driven by the work of guitarist Hamody Hindi.  Hindi’s subtle picking lends itself to comparison to the work of Wes Montgomery.  Meanwhile, Freed’s own vocals, with their delivery style and sound, lend themselves to comparison to Diana Krall.  Kyle Owens’ gentle time keeping and Josh Gilbert’s equally subtle accents on the saxophone add even more to the arrangement’s enjoyment.  The whole of the musicians’ work makes the arrangement reason in itself that the song stands out.  The arrangement stands out even more when it pairs with the song’s lyrical content, which finds Freed singing about a relationship that is at that point where the couple has gotten too comfortable and forgotten the flame that once burned so bright.

Freed subject asks in the song’s lead verse, “Are we ancient history/Are we past our prime/Have we become the thing we always said we’d never be/Are we out of time/Have we crossed the line/Have we crossed the line…Have we orchestrated our demise/Are we out of time?”  From there she continues, “Are we young/Are we old/Is our story all but told/Did we miss the boat and cannot float/Are we dust/Or are we gold?”  Again, this is not a story of a relationship at it’s end, but at that crucial moment when a couple discusses whether the flame is still there.  That Freed broached the topic in such a light, almost playful fashion here instead of the more serious tone she and her fellow musicians could have taken is a change of pace that plenty of listeners will find refreshing.  That is considering the typical heaviness and seriousness of such a topic.  The whole sort of throws back to the playful approach of George Gershwin’s timeless 1937 hit, ‘Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off.’  To that end, the whole of the song does plenty to show why it and the album deserve to be heard.

Another notable addition to Freed’s new album comes in the form of the cover song ‘Lilac Wine.’  Originally composed by James Shelton in 1950, it was made popular by Hope Foye in the short-lived musical, “Dance Me a Song.”  Being unable to find the original through any online outlet, it is difficult to make a comparison between the original song and Freed’s rendition.  What can be said of Freed’s take on the song is that her take is deeply emotional and does so well evoking the emotion of someone who is intentionally getting lost in the bottle after being dumped by a romantic interest.  What feels like a two-movement song opens with a deeply emotional movement backed so powerfully by its string arrangement.  The use of the cello alongside the piano and Freed’s vocals paints a rich picture of someone at a dimly lit bar, bottle in hand, head on the bar.  As the song progresses into its “second movement” the sadness is still there, but the subject’s mood alters slightly, perhaps being lightened by the alcohol.  Again, the instrumentation, paired with Freed’s vocals are to credit with making the song so engaging.  All things considered here, this rendition is well worth hearing, especially when compared to the countless other takes on the song performed by so many of Freed’s more well-known counterparts (E.g. Nina Simone, Jeff Buckley, Eartha Kitt, etc.).  It is just one more example of what the album has to offer.

Going back to Freed’s originals, ‘There’s a Mornin’ Coming,’ which opens the album, is another notable original here.  This song’s arrangement is so much unlike everything else featured in Freed’s new album.  Instead of the jazz leanings that are so present throughout the album, this song’s arrangement blends elements of soul and neo-folk for a completely unique composition.  Listeners can even argue that there is a touch of gospel in the mix, too.  Some might call it a stretch, but Freed’s vocals here are actually ever so slightly comparable to those of Joni Mitchell.  That is evidenced through a close examination of the warmth in her sound and the richness therein, too.  All things considered, the arrangement makes the song a great start to the album and an equally strong first impression to Freed for those who may be new to her and her work. The energy in the arrangement pairs with the song’s lyrical content to make for even more interest in this case.

The lyrical content featured in this song seems to deliver a message of hope and determination as Freed sings, “There’s a morning coming for you.”  She notes at one point in the song, “Spare me the story of your sad, sheltered youth/Spare me the saga of your hidden truth…The song’s lyrics are difficult to decipher from here sans lyrics to reference.  That aside, the message remains clear here.  It delivers that message of hope, reminding listeners that things will get better and to look forward, not back.  That message, along with the arrangement’s equally positive energy, makes the song in whole yet another example of how much Big Crazy Love has to offer audiences.  When the engagement and entertainment ensured by this song, the others examined here and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes the album overall a welcome new addition to this year’s field of new jazz albums.

Courtney Freed’s new album, Big Crazy Love, is a strong new offering from the up-and-coming jazz singer.  That is proven through its musical and lyrical content alike.  All three of the songs examined here make that clear.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album a positive new offering from Freed that will appeal to a wide range of audiences. 

Big Crazy Love is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of Courtney Freed’s latest news at:



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Sara Lovell’s New LP Will Have A Long Life In Any Family’s Music Library

Courtesy: Unbreakable Chord Music

Family entertainer Sara Lovell is doing her part to try and make bedtime a little less stressful for parents and their children with her new album Night Life.  The record is another successful offering from Lovell, who has spent a good part of her professional career crafting music for audiences of all ages.  That is proven in part through the record’s diverse musical arrangements, which will be addressed shortly.  The lyrical themes add their own share of interest to the record’s presentation and will be addressed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of Night Life.  All things considered, they make Night Life an album that is certain to have a long life in any family’s music library.

Night Life is another successful offering from Sara Lovell.  It is a work that listeners of all ages will enjoy in part due to its musical arrangements.  The arrangements featured throughout the album’s 44-minute run time take listeners in a variety of directions.  The album’s opener and lead single ‘I Don’t Want To Go To Sleep’ boasts a certain pop rock vibe while its follow-up, which is also the album’s title track, takes audiences back to the 80s with its old school R&B approach.  ‘Leave The Monkey’ gives listeners a touch of late 80s/early 90s hip-hop sensibility that couples with a light pop vibe.  That’s just the first three songs in this album.  ‘Rocket,’ the album’s fourth track, is a light, piano-driven piece that lends itself to comparisons to so many modern pop acts.  ‘I Don’t Sleep in a Bed,’ which serves as the album’s midway point, gives listeners a bit of a folk touch.  The use of the guitar, piano and harmonica collectively create a sound that lends itself to comparisons to works from Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan.  Yet again, here is an example of that continued diversity in the album’s musical arrangements.  ‘Bed Oh Bed,’ which comes late in the record’s run, takes listeners into the worlds of bluegrass and Americana.  ‘How The Jungle Sleeps’ presents a certain edgy and funky sound that is unlike anything in any of the album’s other works, once more presenting more variety for listeners.  It is just one more way in which the record’s musical arrangements prove their importance to the record’s overall presentation.  They never stick too long to just one style of music, nor do they just stick to just one style of music.  They offer something for a wide range of audiences.  To that end, it is clear that the musical arrangements that make up the body of Night Life are undeniably important to this album and form a solid foundation to its presentation.  They are just one part of what makes this record a success.  The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical arrangements play their own key part to the record’s presentation.

The lyrical themes that are featured throughout Night Life are all interconnected by the theme of sleep, but are all presented in unique fashions, adding even more interest to the album.  The album’s opener is straight forward in its theme.  It is delivered from the standpoint of a young child who does not want to go to bed.  Every parent (including this parent) can relate to this song, as so many children are just like this child; overly energetic, defiant, etc.  It’s ironic that Lovell counters this in the album’s finale with ‘Lullaby For Grownups.’  That song tells children “When the grownups are feeling all worn out/It’s time for quiet/It’s not the time to shout/They need a story that can take them far away/They need a melody/A close on their day/Just like you/They need sweet dreams/Just like you/They need a kiss/They need a hug/Just like you/They need to sleep/And just like you/They need to know that they are loved.”  The irony here is in the arrangement, because it is this gentle, gliding melody.  As upbeat as the album’s opener is, it would have seemed more natural to give this song more of a bouncy, comical approach than the schmaltzy heartstring puller that is used.  That aside, the two songs still work together lyrically.  ‘I Don’t Sleep in A Bed’ is another way in which the lyrical diversity of this record shines through.  Lovell opens the song with a child singing about sleeping next to his/her dog instead of in bed because of the friendship between the two.  As it progresses, Lovell clearly sings about a child’s happy dreams, of “flying above the clouds.”  There is even a line that celebrates “sleeping in a tent” in a child’s backyard.  On a completely different and lighter note, Lovell takes audiences into the jungle (or the zoo) in ‘Leave The Monkey.’  The song examines wildlife life at night.  She sings about “arguing pelicans” and trumpeting elephants” at one point, even singing lightly about “the party being too loud.”  It’s such a fun moment for this album and just one more in which the album’s  central lyrical theme but unique approach to that theme works so well from beginning to end.  Together with the record’s musical arrangements, the overall content presented in this record leaves no doubt as to why it is such a successful work.  As much as they do to make the album so entertaining and engaging, they are not the record’s only key points.  Its sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.

Audiences will note that, as already noted, Night Life opens on an upbeat note in ‘I Don’t Want To Go To Bed.’  The energy in that composition changes direction, but still stays stable in the record’s title song.  The same can be said of ‘Leave The Monkey.’  The record’s energy becomes reserved as the record progresses into ‘Rocket.’  It pulls back even more as the album enters ‘Sleepwalkers.’  That gradual decline in the album’s energy through its first half reaches its trough in that song, giving way to something more upbeat and light in ‘Scooter and Skeeter,’ which serves as part of the record’s midway point.  No, this critic does not know if that title is a reference to the characters from the beloved Saturday morning cartoon series Muppet Babies.  That more upbeat sense only lasts but so long, though, immediately after giving way to the much more reserved sound and sense of ‘I Don’t Sleep in a Bed.’  That reserved nature carries through into ‘Little Bug’ and actually becomes slightly more reserved as a matter of fact.  Things gradually pick up slightly from there in ‘Bed Oh Bed,’ ‘Wear Yourself Out,’ and ‘Rock-a-bye My Baby.’  ‘How The Jungle Sleeps’ slightly reduces the record’s energy before giving way fully in the album’s closer, ‘Lullaby for Grownups.’  Looking back through the course of the 13-song record, it becomes clear that the subtleties in the rise and fall of the album’s energies in its compositions is actually quite powerful.  It does just enough to keep listeners engaged and entertained in its own right.  That, together with the record’s musical arrangements and lyrical themes, makes the album in whole without doubt, another positive effort from Sara Lovell.

Sara Lovell’s latest album Night Life is another impressive offering from the veteran family entertainer.  That is proven in part through its musical arrangements, which are diverse.  That diversity ensures listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment throughout the course of the album.  The record’s lyrical theme of night and sleep is conveyed in 13 different unique fashions throughout the course of its 44-minute run time.  That adds even more interest to the album’s presentation.  The album’s sequencing does its own important part to the whole of its presentation, too, keeping the energies in each song stable from the album’s opener to its end.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of Night Life.  All things considered, they make Night Life that will definitely have long life (yes, that awful pun was intended) in any family’s music library.  It is available now.  More information on the album is available online along with all of Lovell’s latest news at:










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Eagle Rock’s New Joni Mitchell Concert/Doc Is An Engaging New Profile Of The Veteran Singer-Songwriter

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Famed singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell marked a major milestone this week as she marked her 75th birthday, and she celebrated in style with a star-studded event to mark the occasion.  Thanks to Eagle Rock Entertainment, fans of the veteran singer-songwriter can celebrate Mitchell and her legacy in their own way with a recently released live recording.  Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 is a memorable presentation that Mitchell’s most devoted audiences will appreciate.  That is due in part to the recording’s set list.  This will be discussed shortly.  The documentary film that is woven into the concert adds just as much interest for audiences as the set list.  It will be discussed a little bit later.  The recording’s average price point rounds out is most important elements, and will also be discussed later.  Each item is important in its own way to the whole of Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970.  All things considered, they make this recording a piece that will appeal largely to the most devout fans of Mitchell and her work.

Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 is an interesting presentation from Eagle Rock Entertainment and veteran singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.  That is because the recording, released Sept. 14 via Eagle Rock Entertainment, presents a very interesting portrait of the then very young and still up-and-coming performer.  At the time of her performance, Mitchell had only released four full-length studio recordings – Song to a Seagull (1968), Clouds (1969), Ladies of the Canyon (1970) and Blue (1971) – making her still a very young performer, despite her experience.  Her 11-song set list featured in this performance lifts liberally from the latter trio of albums.  Clouds gets four nods while Ladies of the Canyon and Blue each get three nods.  ‘Hunter,’ which apparently was a b-side from Blue that never made the album’s final cut, is also included in here.  Interestingly enough, her 1968 debut record Song to a Seagull is nowhere to be seen in this set list.  Either way, audiences at the time still got a relatively well-balanced representation of her catalog at that point due to that clear focus that was put on the set list.  What’s more, a whole new generation of audiences now get a glimpse into who Joni Mitchell was at that time thanks to this new recording.  To that end, the set list proves itself to be a critical part of the recording’s whole.  It is just one of the important pieces of the presentation’s whole.  The documentary that is interwoven into the concert adds even more interest to the recording’s overall presentation.

The documentary that is coupled with Mitchell’s performance is important to note because it is really a dual story line of sorts.  On one side, the story shows Mitchell growing both as a person and as an artist, as she is forced to face a crowd that was not expecting her so early; a crowd that was likely expecting a more lively act than her.  Over the course of her rescheduled performance, audiences see the crowd slowly turn and accept her, almost making her an underdog figure of sorts.  Mitchell’s interviews, originally recorded in 2003, add their own depth to this story, making her even more of an endearing figure.

The other story included in the documentary is that of the unrest throughout the festival.  Audiences are introduced to a group of people within the audience that was protesting the festival and its managers.  That is because they were not being allowed inside the venue.  That led to some unexpected moments in which some of those protestors actually made their way on stage to make their protests heard loud and clear.  Simply put, the protestors were people who were a little bit too enthusiastic about the festival. Interestingly enough, this ties back into Mitchell’s story because it was her performance and her music that seemed to help quell the problems with the protestors.  That ability to calm the crowd – and win over the audience in the process – helped her overcome the nerves that she noted having in her 2003 interview segments.  The result is a performance that audiences will agree improved with each song.  Keeping all of this in mind, the combined performance and documentary presentation of Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 makes for a work that Mitchell’s most devoted audiences will appreciate just as much as those perhaps less familiar with her and her work.  Staying on that note, the Blu-ray offers audiences the choice to watch the concert by itself and to watch it coupled with the doc.  This critic’s own interpretation is to watch the two presentations as one.  It makes for a much richer experience than watching the concert by itself.  Having noted all of this, the content that makes up the whole of Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight gives audiences plenty to appreciate here.  Even with that in mind, there is still one more item for audiences to appreciate.  That item is the Blu-ray’s average price point.

Using prices listed at Amazon, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble, the set’s average price point comes to $18.79.  Research on the set finds that it is not listed at the websites of Walmart, Target or at Books-A-Million.  Considering the depth of the recording’s overall presentation and the pacing of the more than two-hour program (the exact run time is listed at two hours, 12 minutes), that average price of less than $20 is relatively affordable and money well-spent.  When this is all considered together, it makes Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 another positive offering from Eagle Rock Entertainment, and one that any of Joni Mitchell’s fans will appreciate.

Both Sides Now:  Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 is a good addition to the collections of Joni Mitchell’s most devoted fans.  It is also a welcome watch for today’s younger audiences who might be getting their first taste of the veteran singer-songwriter.  As noted above, that is due in part to the recording’s set list.  It shows Mitchell at a point in which she was growing in popularity, but still young enough that she was showing her personal and artistic development.  The documentary that is tied into the doc adds to that story while also presenting an equally interesting story about the festival itself.  The Blu-ray’s average price point is relatively affordable.  When it is considered along with the recording’s overall content, it proves the Blu-ray to be money well-spent, and a recording that, again, Mitchell’s most devoted audiences will appreciate as much as a whole new generation of audiences.  Both Sides Now: Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 is available now.  More information on this recording is available online along with all of Joni Mitchell’s latest news and more at:










More information on this and other titles from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online now at:










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Time Life To Re-Issue ‘The Wonder Years: The Complete Series’ This Summer

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/StarVista

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment/StarVista

There is good news for fans of ABC’s classic family drama The Wonder Years.

Time Life Entertainment has announced that it will re-issue the series in a complete series box set next month.  It is currently slated to be released Tuesday, August 23rd and will retail for MSRP of $119.95.  The new re-issue will feature all 115 episodes of the six-season series spread across 22 discs and 12 hours of new bonus material.  Those bonus features include: highlights from the cast’s first reunion in 16 years, a farewell set tour, Exclusive interviews and more.  It also features all of the songs originally used in the series’ 5 year, six season run including: Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, Joe Cocker, and many others.  The series’ soundtrack in total comes to 300 songs.

Over the course of its six seasons on the air, The Wonder Years was one of television’s most popular series.  It earned a spot on Neilsen’s Top 30 in four of those seasons.  It earned an Emmy® for “Best Comedy Series,” and at age 13 lead actor Fred Savage became the youngest actor ever nominated for “Outstanding Lead Actor For A Comedy Series.”  The series would eventually go on to earn a total of 24 awards and be nominate for 70 more.  Those nominations and wins included: Emmy® Awards, A Golden Globe®, and in 1989 a Peabody® Award for pushing the boundaries of the sitcom format and using what were then new methods of storytelling.  Even after the show ended its run, its impact was still being felt.  In 1997 “My Father’s Office” was ranked #29 on TV Guide’s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.  The series’ pilot episode was ranked #43 on that same list.

The Wonder Years: The Complete Series will be released in stores and online on Tuesday, August 23rd via Time Life Entertainment.  It will retail for MSRP of $119.95.  More information on this and other titles from Time Life Entertainment is available online now at:










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StarVista, Time Life Announce Release Date, Specs For The Wonder Years Season 2

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Kevin, Paul, Winnie and the rest of the characters from ABC’s beloved classic drama The Wonder Years are coming back.

StarVista Entertainment announced Monday that it will release the complete second season of The Wonder Years on DVD on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015. The series’ second season consists of seventeen half-hour episodes spread across four discs. Also included in the upcoming second season set are a number of bonuses for fans. There are also more than four dozen classic songs from artists such as: Bob Dylan, Carol King, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Cream, Bing Crosby, Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel, Traffic, Diana Ross and the Supremes, James Taylor, Nat King Cole, The Miracles, Judy Collins, Donovan, and a number of others. The full list of songs and artists featured in season Two is noted below.

“Heart of Darkness”

  • You Make Me Feel So Young
  • Sunshine of Your Love-Cream

“Our Miss White”

  • Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)-The Temptations
  • The Times They Are A-Changin’-Bob Dylan


  • Jingle Bell Rock-Instrumental
  • White Christmas-Bing Crosby
  • River-Joni Mitchell
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas-Instrumental

“Steady as She Goes”

  • Yellow Bird-On-Screen Character Performance
  • Somewhere-On-Screen Character Performance
  • Ooo Baby Baby-The Miracles
  • The Thrill Is Gone-B.B. King
  • Will You Love Me Tomorrow-Carole King

“Just between Me and You and Kirk and Paul and Carla and Becky”

  • I Am a Rock-Simon & Garfunkel
  • Someday We’ll Be Together-Diana Ross and the Supremes
  • Some Enchanted Evening-On-Screen Character Performance

“Pottery Will Get You Nowhere”

  • It’s Not Unusual
  • When I Fall in Love-Nat King Cole

“Hiroshima, Mon Frère”

  • Wild Thing-The Troggs
  • Brother, Brother-Carole King


  • You’ve Got a Friend-James Taylor
  • Sweet Georgia Brown-Brother Bones

“Walk Out”

  • I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man-Muddy Waters
  • The Tracks of My Tears-The Miracles
  • I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die-Rag-Country Joe and the Fish
  • Give Peace A Chance-On-Screen Character Performance


  • My Girl-The Temptations
  • Theme from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


  • Born under a Bad Sign-Cream
  • Respect-Aretha Franklin

“Birthday Boy”

  • Happy, Happy Birthday Baby-The Tune Weavers
  • Bookends-Simon & Garfunkel
  • Yummy, Yummy, Yummy-On-Screen Character Performance
  • Hava Nagila-Karmon Israeli Singers


  • Subterranean Homesick Blues-Bob Dylan
  • In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida-Iron Butterfly
  • You Can All Join In-Traffic
  • Catch the Wind-Donovan

“Square Dance”

  • Star Flicker-Houston Ramblers
  • Turkey In The Straw-Ralph Pierce
  • Comin’ round the Mountain-The Sundowners Band

“Whose Woods Are These?”

  • Happy Days Are Here Again-The Banjo Barons
  • In My Life-Judy Collins

“How I’m Spending My Summer Vacation”

  • The Theme from “A Summer Place”-Percy Faith and His Orchestra
  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes-The Platters
  • Never on Sunday-The Chordettes
  • I Only Have Eyes for You-The Flamingos
  • La Vie En Rose-Edith Piaf
  • Scarborough Fair/Canticle-Simon & Garfunkel

The second season of The Wonder Years sees Kevin, his friends, and his family all grow together as throughout all of the turmoil of the age. Kevin’s personal growth comes as he starts standing up to his older brother Wayne (Jason Hervey) and as he takes part in a class walkout to protest the Vietnam War. He, Paul (Josh Saviano), and Winnie (Danica McKellar) also fight to stop developers from plowing over Harper Woods, where the trio shared many of their favorite childhood memories.

The bonus materials included on the upcoming Season 2 box set are noted below.


  • School Days: Roundtable with Danica McKellar, Fred Savage and Josh Saviano
  • Featurette: The Times They Are A-Changin’: The Era
  • Interviews with: Dan Lauria (Jack Arnold), Alley Mills (Norma Arnold), Daniel Stern (Narrator)

The Wonder Years: Season Two will retail for MSRP of $39.95. More information on the box set’s upcoming release and other titles from Star Vista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment is available online at:




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Avi’s ‘Night Light” Is a Bright Musical Light

Courtesy:  Little Monster Records

Courtesy: Little Monster Records

Singer Zee Avi’s latest album Night Light is available today. The third album from the Malaysian born singer, it is also the first family album that she has ever released. It goes without saying that her first venture into that realm has produced what is one of the most intriguing records of the year in the realm of family and children’s music. The nine-track disc is comprised primarily of covers from some of the most well-known names in the music industry, including: Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, and Bobby McFerrin. There is also a cover of the famed ‘Rainbow Connection’ from Jim Henson’s original Muppet Movie that any Muppets fan will enjoy. And audiences will agree that her cover of the Louis Armstrong hit ‘Dream A Little Dream’ is absolutely beautiful, even if they aren’t fans of jazz. It all closes with a medley of well-known children’s songs aptly titled ‘Nightlight Medley.’ It’s a fitting closer for the album that will leave a smile on the face of any listener young and old alike. Having been left with that smile, listeners will agree that Night Light is an album that any family should hear at least once this year.

Night Light opens with what can best be described as the most intriguing cover of Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ that this critic has ever heard. Avi’s take on the song gives it a decidedly different identity than McFerrin’s original tune. She incorporates what sounds like a tabla and a rather interesting bass instrument. The combination of the two instruments set against Avi’s almost siren-like singing sets her take on McFerrin’s song completely apart from any other cover of the song currently out there. Even as she sings, listeners will note that Avi doesn’t simply try to cover McFerrin’s original work. Rather she actually makes it her own without completely losing the original altogether. It definitely is something that must be heard to be fully understood and appreciated.

Avi’s cover of ‘Don’t Worry, He Happy’ is definitely original. That goes without saying. On the other side of the proverbial coin, she sticks more to the original work when in her cover of ‘Dream a Little Dream’ The song, originally made famous by jazz legend Louis Armstrong, is made even more interesting with what sounds like a ukulele. Even with the combination of Avi’s gentle vocals and ukulele in the place of Armstrong’s famed trumpet and gravelly voice, the song is still as wonderful as ever. The true irony of Avi’s vocal style here is its similarity to that of Billie Holiday. Some might call it a stretch. But a close side by side comparison reveals the similarity. It is slight. But once listeners hear it, they will agree as to Avi’s high level of talent, being compared to such a great.

The album’s closer, ‘Nightlight Medley’ offers listeners a pair of classic children’s tunes. It is is the perfect closer for listeners. It starts with Avi’s rendition of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.’ She starts off by singing it in English before proceeding to sing the song in her native tongue. There’s something special about hearing this song known around the world in a language completely unknown to most listeners. From ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’, Avi moves on to ‘Four and Twenty Black Birds Baked in a Pie.’ She gives even this song its own twist as she sings. As with the other covers included in this album, it is one that absolutely must be heard in order to understand and appreciate the new life and identity that Avi has given the song.

Night Light is available in stores and online now. It can be ordered online now via Amazon at Audiences can keep up with the latest from Zee Avi after ordering her CD online at and To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at

Zee Avi To Release First Ever Family Album This Spring

Courtesy:  Little Monsters Records

Courtesy: Little Monsters Records

Malaysian-American singer/musician Zee Avi will release her latest album this Spring.

Night Light, which is a collection of covers of family favorite songs, will be released Tuesday, April 15th. It is the first ever family for the artist who has also released albums via Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records. The album includes covers of Louis Armstrong’s ‘Dream a Little Dream’, Bobby McFerrin’s ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’, Joni Mitchell’s ‘The Circle Game’, and even ‘Colors of the Wind’ from Disney’s Pocahontas among many others. It was produced by Little Monster Records head Kevin Salem at his company’s studios in Woodstock, New York and conjures thoughts of Avi’s earliest releases. Salem noted of the overall fell of Night Light, “There’s a lot of soul and great musical nourishment here.”

Zee, who is a Malaysian native, has recognized her as one of the Top 10 Malaysians. She won the International Youth Award in her home country in 2011. These honors have led to numerous speaking engagements around the world and performances at some of the world’s biggest festivals. Those festivals include: Borneo’s Rain Forest World Music Festival, Australia’s Byron Bay Festival, San Francisco’s Noise Pop Fesitval, Austin’s SXSW Festival, New York’s Mountain Jam Festival, Lilith Fair, Bonnaroo, and San Diego’s Street Scene. She was also just recently tapped to perform at the KiddieComm family music festival in Philadelphia, PA on June 28th.

More information on Zee Avi’s upcoming performances and album is available online at,, and To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at