Courtesy: Mensch House Records
Families are among the most important people in any person’s life if not the most important people in a person’s life. That is because while they can obviously be problematic at times, they can also be the most positively influential people in a person’s life. For Dustbowl Revival vocalist Liz Beebe, her family proved to be quite influential in a good way last year without even trying. She became an aunt while touring with her band mates in Dustbowl Revival last year, and apparently became inspired to create her first family music album, Hush Now: Lullabies for Sleepy People. This past Friday, July 27, that 10-song album was released via Mensch House Music. It goes without saying that it is a family music album all its own. That is evidenced through the songs that make up the body of the album. They will be discussed shortly. The arrangements make it stand out, too. They will be discussed a little later, as will the record’s sequencing, which put the final touch to the album. Each element noted here plays its own key part to the overall presentation of Hush Now: Lullabies for Sleepy People. All things considered, they make this 27-minute record one of this year’s most unique family music albums.
Dustbowl Revival singer Liz Beebe’s debut family music album Hush Now: Lullabies for Sleepy People is one of the most unique family music albums to be released so far this year. That is evidenced in part through the songs that make up the album’s body. All ten of the record’s featured songs are covers of songs from across the musical universe. They were in fact chosen from a number of suggestions given to Beebe by her own family and friends for the record. In other words, they are not just the standard covers of well-known family songs, though there are some familiar tunes included here. Those familiar tunes include a take of the song ‘Stay Awake’ from Disney’s hit 1964 movie Mary Poppins as well as the traditional standard ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ and the absolutely powerful ‘Baby Mine’ from Disney’s beloved 1941 movie Dumbo along with the famed ‘Edelweiss’ from 20th Century Fox’s 1965 big screen adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical The Sound of Music. One also can’t ignore the inclusion of beloved family entertainer Raffi’s famed ‘Baby Beluga’ here, either. It actually opens the album. Along with these family favorites, Beebe also opted to include tunes that might be more familiar to grown-ups than children while also introducing said younger listeners to that music in the form of a take of James Taylor’s famed ‘Sweet Baby James’ and The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’ just to name a couple of songs. Her cover of ‘I Don’t Want To Live on the Moon’ might even be somewhat unfamiliar to today’s young Sesame Street viewers considering how much that show has changed since its glory days. To that end, this song’s inclusion in the record’s body is certain to appeal to older listeners just as much as the other noted songs aimed at said listeners. Simply put, the songs chosen for this album show a direct effort to reach listeners of all ages in a way unlike other family albums have done, and it succeeds in doing so, too. Keeping that in mind, the album’s featured songs create a strong foundation for the album. That foundation is strengthened even more through the unique arrangements at the center of the songs.
The songs’ arrangements are key to examine as part of this album’s whole because while they stay true to their source material for the most part, they also present themselves in a certain updated light, too. Take for instance Beebe’s cover of Raffi’s ‘Baby Beluga,’ which opens the album. Raffi’s original song is a light, “bouncy” sort of composition that has become one of his most famous and beloved works. Beebe’s take on the song does have that light, accessible vibe, but only to a point. Instead of that “bouncy” sort of vibe present in Raffi’s work, Beebe’s take is a gentler, almost reserved sort of arrangement. One can’t ignore just how stark the difference is between the arrangements even in the one subtle stylistic difference in the arrangements. Even as stark as the difference is, it still makes this arrangement interesting and worth hearing, regardless of love or hate. Her take on the traditional ‘You Are My Sunshine’ on the other hand is much closer to its source material from start to finish than ‘Baby Beluga’ and its original. It’s a bit slower than the original song, but still works quite well, and is certain to be a family favorite. The subtle addition of the keyboards (or whatever that additional line is beneath Beebe and her mandolin) adds even more interest and heart to the arrangement. The string arrangement added to her cover of the Sesame Street song ‘I Don’t Want To Live on the Moon’ makes this cover’s arrangement just as endearing as the arrangement of ‘You Are My Sunshine.’ When the dual harmony is added into the mix along with the strings, this song becomes even more enjoyable and touching, and a great lullaby in itself. These are just a few examples of the importance of the arrangements exhibited throughout this record. They are hardly the only songs that show the importance of the songs’ arrangements to the whole of this compilation. The use of the strings and music box in Beebe’s take on ‘Edelweiss’ set against Beebe’s gentle vocal delivery makes this song such a standout addition to the collection, if not one of the record’s absolute best entries. Anyone with any knowledge of Disney’s Dumbo won’t be able to get through Beebe’s cover of ‘Baby Mine’ without tearing up as she takes the original arrangement and makes it even more emotionally deep. The arrangement at the center of her take of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ is yet another wonderful example of the importance of these songs’ arrangements. This song’s arrangement stands out because of the airy, ethereal sound in its presentation. It serves so well to conjure thoughts of someone looking up at the night sky on a warm spring or summer night, and in turn creates that much more comfort for young listeners. As the album reaches its finale in her take on ‘Powder Blue’ puts the perfect period to its whole as listeners hear a young child gently falling asleep (even snoring so adorably) as the sound of his or her mother fading in the distance as sleep overtakes the child. It is just a wonderful final statement from the album. In fact, her approach here is just as good as that presented by Renee & Jeremy if not better. Between this arrangement, the others noted here and any that might have been missed, it becomes clear in examining the record’s arrangements why they are so pivotal to its presentation. They add so much depth to the record, and in turn strengthen that foundation formed by the songs even more. When joined with the song selections themselves, the songs and their arrangements do more than enough to make this album a worthwhile addition to any family’s music library, they are not the only elements that make the record stand out. It overall sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.
From one song to the next, Beebe generally keeps the record’s energy stable and soft, so as to help young listeners fall asleep. It never gets too fast or slow from one song to the next. As a matter of fact, a close listen to the record reveals that the songs’ energy becomes increasingly reserved throughout the record, as is evidenced from the album’s opener to its midpoint, Beebe’s cover of ‘Baby Mine.’ The only moment at which the record’s energy seems to shift at all comes in Beebe’s takes of ‘Blackbird’ and ‘Sweet Baby James.’ Even as it does, it’s so minimal that only a full, close examination reveals that shift. This is a tribute to the attention to the record’s energy in its attempt to relax young listeners. From there, the album’s energy slows again, until the record finally fades in its finale so gently. Simply put, it is clear that a lot of thought was put into this record’s sequencing, and that thought paid off, too. That’s because it led to a record that from start to end, keeps young listeners fully relaxed, and in turn certainly must help those listeners sleep much deeper and easier. When this is considered along with the songs and their arrangements, all three elements prove this debut family music album from Liz Beebe a successful new solo effort from the veteran singer-songwriter that any family will welcome in their music libraries.
Liz Beebe’s new family music album Hush Now: Lullabies For Sleepy People is a successful first family music offering from the veteran singer-songwriter. It shows from start to finish that she has potential as a family entertainer if she were to try to craft her own family songs. This is evident in the songs that she chose to cover for her debut family record and their arrangements, which give new life and identities to their source material. The record’s sequencing ensures a certain calm in young listeners, helping those listeners fall asleep that much easier, in turn. Keeping all of this in mind, Hush Now: Songs For Sleepy People is sure to achieve its goal and then some. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Hush Now: Lullabies For Sleepy People is available online now along with all of Liz Beebe’s latest news and more at:
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