‘Under The Pepper Tree’ Is A Successful First Family Music Outing For Sara Watkins

Courtesy: New West

Singer-songwriter Sara Watkins has made quite the name for herself over the years as a member of the bluegrass group Nickel Creek and as part of the Watkins Family Hour and I’m With Her.  Now this Friday, Watkins will take her first step into another phase of her career with her debut family music album, Under the Pepper Tree.  The 15-song first outing is a presentation that will appeal to her fans and those of one Diana Panton.  That is due in part to the song’s that make up the album’s body.  They will be discussed shortly.  The musical arrangements that Watkins employs throughout the album add to its appeal and will be discussed a little later.  The sequencing of that overall content puts the finishing touch to the record and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, Sarah Watkins’ debut family music album is a successful offering that the whole family will indeed enjoy.

Sara Watkins’ debut family music album is a work that the whole family truly will enjoy.  That is due in part to its featured songs.  The songs in question are a selection of songs from various classic movies.  Bob Nolan’s ‘Tumblin’ Tumbleweed,’ from Gene Autry’s 1935 movie by the same name is featured here along with the likes of ‘Edelweiss’ from 20th Century Fox’s adaptation of Rodgers &  Hammerstein’s musical, The Sound of Music (1965), and ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ from Disney’s classic Pinocchio (1940).  Also represented here is ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ from 20th Century Fox’s adaptation of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s musical, Carousel (1956); ‘La la Lu’ from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp (1955) and even ‘Moon River’ from Paramount Pictures’ 1961 movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  There is even an original tune in the form of the album’s title track along with everything else.  The songs will relate to listeners of all ages because they are all timeless works that the noted audiences will remember.  Given, parents will recognize some of the songs more than children, but that aside, those songs will still entertain younger listeners.

On another level, that some of the songs (and their related movies) will connect more with older audiences than with children. That in itself serves as a starting point for older audiences to offer younger listeners the most basic introduction to so many classic musicals and movies.  That early introduction could help lead to a lifelong love for said presentations.  So while on the surface, the songs make up a collective of soundtrack works, they actually can and do serve an even greater purpose, bringing families together while building a foundation and love for the great timeless works of stage and screen from entertainment’s golden age.  To that end, the songs featured in this compilation form a solid foundation for the record itself.  It is just one part of what makes the recording so enjoyable.  The arrangements that Watkins chose for these songs adds to the record’s overall appeal.

Watkins largely stays true to the source material in each song that she features in her new record, from one to the next.  For all of that honor that Watkins pays to the original works, she still gives them her own nice touch.  Case in point is her take on ‘Stay Awake.’  Originally featured as one of the songs from Disney’s 1964 musical adaptation of author P.L. Travers’ novel Mary Poppins, the song was a gentle lullabye crafted by  the famed Sherman Brothers, Richard and Robert.  It featured Julie Andrews’ absolutely stunning vocal control alongside some even more subtle strings.  Watkins’ take on the song would have fit just as well into that movie.  It is just as moving with its piano line joining with the strings to make the song even richer.  Watkins’ over vocal delivery is so powerful in its simplicity here, too.  Ironically though being a lullaby, Watkins’ take on the song is enough to make even the most emotionally strong man blubber like a baby.  That is a telling statement. 

On a different note, Watkins’ take on Bob Nolan’s ‘Tumbling Tumblewood’ stays even truer to its source material, complete with fiddle and the slightest touch of a slide guitar.  Of course, gone are the clip-clop of the horse hoofs and the string arrangement featured in the original song performed by Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers.  Instead, Watkins has opted here for the more spit-shined take that even what with everything in mind, the song still sounds quite a bit like something that one might hear playing in the old honky tonk joints of country music’s golden era.  To that point, it is still its own unique arrangement.

‘Moon River’ is another example of the importance of the musical arrangements featured in Watkins’ new record.  Her take on the song does stay true to its source material for the most part, stylistically.  Though there are some subtle differences between the original version composed by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, and sung by Audrey Hepburn, and Watkins’ take.  Right off the bat, the string arrangements and the harmonica featured in the original are absent in Watkins’ rendition.  They are replaced here by the subtle addition of a Hammond organ.  Watkins’ own vocal delivery bears its own identity here.  Her delivery is just as soft and gentle as that of Hepburn and almost as airy.  That whole set against the whole of the original makes Watkins’ take here just as interesting as the other covers featured in the compilation.  When those other songs are considered with this arrangement and the others examined here, the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the recording’s overall musical content.  When that content is considered along with the featured songs themselves, that whole gives listeners even more to like.  When all of that is considered along with the record’s sequencing, the record is rounded out and completed.

The sequencing of Under the Pepper Tree keeps the album’s energy light from beginning to end of its 36-minute run time, starting off relaxed in her take of ‘Blue Shadows on the Trail.’  The energy really does not pick back up until late in the album’s run in Watkin’s take of ‘Blanket for a Sail.’  Up until that point, the energy remains relatively reserved.  It pulls back again from there right up to the album’s finale, ‘Good Night.’  So basically what audiences get overall due to the sequencing here, is a record that will serve to relax any listener.  As a matter of fact, one might even be able to use the record to help get to sleep being that the record’s energy is so gentle.  Between that, the unique takes on the songs and the very selection of songs, the whole makes the record in whole a work that is a truly successful family music album.

Sara Watkins’ debut family music album Under the Pepper Tree is a positive new offering that the whole family will indeed enjoy.  That is due in part to the record’s featured songs, the majority of which are timeless songs that are themselves featured in some of the most famous and beloved movies of all time.  The arrangements that Watkins presents here are themselves important to the record’s presentation.  They stay largely true to their source material but also give the songs the slightest of updates, making for even more appeal.  The sequencing of this overall content keeps the record’s energy relatively light and reserved throughout the record’s nearly 40-minute run time.  That means the record’s overall energy will keep listeners relaxed.  That will result in a positive mindset for any listener.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this record.  All things considered, they make the record in whole a successful first family music outing for Sarah Watkins.  Under the Pepper Tree is scheduled for release Friday through New West Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Watkins’ latest news at:

Websitehttps://sarawatkins.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarawatkins

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/SaraWatkins

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Disney’s Lady And The Tramp II Is A Modern Family Classic

Courtesy: Disney Studios

Lady and the Tramp II is a nice continuation of Disney’s classic Lady and The Tramp.  Nearly fifty years passed between the debut of the original Lady and The Tramp and this direct home release.  One would have thought that in the time that passed between the two movies, something would have been lost along the way.  But the reality of this sequel is that it’s a surprisingly enjoyable movie.

Lady and The Tramp II is enjoyable in that despite having multiple hands in the pot, the story is solid and believable.  That believability is related directly to the fact that the story is relatable.  It’s a coming of age story.  Every person was young at one time.  Who during their youth hasn’t had the desire to break out and really be independent and experience life?  That’s Scamp’s “predicament.”  Scamp only sees life as a bunch of rules.  He feels that he’s being held back by all the rules and is only getting punished.  Again, what person hasn’t felt this way during their youth?  As a result of this feeling, Scamp manages to break off of his leash, and join Buster and the Junkyard Dogs.  Along the way, Scamp discovers a secret that his dad, Tramp, had kept from him.  That secret plays into the story’s ultimate outcome, which is a happy one, of course.

The coming of age story centered on Scamp is just part of the whole that makes Lady and The Tramp II enjoyable.  The story also carries a touching message about family.  While Scamp might have run off for a period of time, he comes to realize the importance of family, and that his own parents (Tramp and Lady) would always be there for him no matter what.  This is a message that audiences of all ages will appreciate.

The story behind Lady and The Tramp II goes a long way toward making it an enjoyable watch.  It isn’t all that makes it enjoyable, either.  The movie makes countless references to the 1955 original throughout its roughly one hour and nine minute run time.  Those references include not just little things like the stained glass window in the house, or the reference to the famed spaghetti scene at Tony’s restaurant or even the return of many characters from the original film.  Also included is the fact that the people behind this movie’s creation made a valid attempt to stay true to the animation of the original film.

The bonus behind the scenes feature describing how this movie came to life adds even more appreciation to it.  It echoes the sentiments shared in the making of featurette in the recently released Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs re-issue.  The crew behind this movie mentions the importance of making the feature hand drawn, rather than relying solely on CG.  One of the individuals notes that while it’s okay to use CG as a tool, it would be almost dishonorable to go the route that so many companies have gone, and just do things the easy way.  It shows that they really wanted to do honor to the memory of the original movie.  For that, the crew that brought this movie to life should be commended.

Lady and The Tramp II isn’t Lady and the Tramp.  But that isn’t a bad thing.  It’s a continuation of the original story.  And it’s a real and believable story.  Now that Disney has re-issued it on a blu-ray/DVD combo pack, families are getting another chance to enjoy this movie for the first time again.  It’s one that every family will enjoy after watching and will over time itself become a modern classic from Disney. 

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