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side of the proverbial coin, she sticks more to the original work when in her cover of ‘Dream a Little Dream’ The song, originally made famous by jazz legend Louis Armstrong, is made even more interesting with what sounds like a ukulele.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 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J566VDA/ref=s9_simh_gw_p15_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=03S45350NRFN0W5ATJBW&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846. Audiences can keep up with the latest from Zee Avi after ordering her CD online at http://www.facebook.com/zeeavi and http://www.zeeavi.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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 http://www.zeeavi.com, http://www.facebook.com/zeeavi, and http://twitter.com/ZeeAvi. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Miss Nina’s New LP Entertaining And Educational

Courtesy:  Little Monster Records

Courtesy: Little Monster Records

Brooklyn, NY based children’s entertainment Miss Nina has crafted in her new album an opus that is everything that audiences think of when they think of children’s music.  Rather than take the more mainstream route that many of today’s children’s artists have taken with their releases, Miss Nina (A.K.A. Nina Stone) has take the road seemingly less traveled on She doo be doop.  This album is directly aimed more at her young intended audiences both musically and lyrically, rather than their parents.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either.  If it were used on television, the music on this album is what one might expect to hear on programming from the likes of Nick, Jr. and in some cases, even Disney, Jr.

Parents may not be one of the intended audiences with Miss Nina’s new album.  But with the kid friendly lyrics and equally fun music, they’ll be glad to play these songs for their kids.  They will especially appreciate Miss Nina’s dedication to children’s literacy.  Believe it or not, she openly pays tribute to classic children’s stories the likes of Where The Wild Things Are, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? On her new LP with her own take on the stories.  Perhaps the best of those adaptations is her take on Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, ‘Brown Bear Rap.’  Yes, she makes it into a kid friendly rap.  No doubt it’ll have any young listener moving and dancing as will her musical take on Where The Wild Things Are.  Miss Nina was actually pretty smart in taking these children’s stories and putting them to music.  By doing so, not only is she entertaining young listeners, but is also promoting childhood literacy through an original and fun avenue.  For that, parents will especially appreciate the inclusion of the aforementioned songs.

As entertaining as her musical literary adaptations are, they aren’t the only songs on Miss Nina’s new LP.  The album’s opener, ‘My Hula Hoop’ is just as certain to get kids moving and dancing.  It’s a simple song about kids having fun with a hula hoop.  The subtle guitar riff and electronics will definitely get kids dancing.  And it may even get parents tapping their toes and clapping their hands a little bit, too.

For all the fun that Miss Nina offers her young listeners, there is at least one track that stands out more than others on this record.  That song is ‘Angry Song.’  The song’s kid friendly punk rock sound mixed with its lyrical side tackle what is for kids a serious issue.  It validates their more emotional moments, as Miss Nina sings, “This is my angry song/When everything is going wrong/I’m mad and sad and full of steam/And all I want to do is yell and scream.”  That combination of music and lyrics makes this a relatable song for its audiences.  Along with the album’s other songs, it’s one more than kids and parents alike will appreciate albeit for their own reasons.  But that’s still a good thing.  It means that whether at home, in the car, or in the classroom, this is a record that parents and teachers can enjoy together with their children and students any time of day, any day of the week. 

For more information on Miss Nina’s new release any upcoming shows and more, parents can log on to http://www.MyMissNina.com and http://www.facebook.com/MyMissNina

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.