Blue Clouds

Common Sense Media says

Endearingly sweet acoustic folk music for families.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Songs teach positive traits like kindness, love, and appreciation. Mitchell also includes two traditional Asian folk songs on this album, "San Toki (Mountain Bunny") from Korea and "Yuki (Snow)" from Japan. Mitchell first sings these songs in their native languages, followed by interpretation in English. Mitchell also includes old folk songs, "Summer Is Icumen In" (from 12th century medieval England, sung jn Middle English), a version of "Froggie Went a-Courtin'" (originally from 16th century Scotland), and "Hop Up, My Ladies" (from colonial America ).

Positive messages

This album embraces the spirit of childhood with positivity and wonder. From Bill Withers' "I Wish You Well:" "Wanna wish you freedom to do the things you love/ I wish you blessings and kindness from above/ Wanna wish you sunlight through the clouds/ And I hope you laugh out loud ..." From the title track "Blue Clouds:" "Goodnight, my darlin'/ Silver moon is on the rise/ I love you more than a thousand suns/ The morning rain on a butterfly's wing/ Goodnight, my darlin'/ Holy river shining bright/ Step to the gate, don't be late/ All of your dreams await you ..."

Positive role models

Positive role models abound in this album. From Van Morrison's "Everyone:" By the winding stream we shall lie and dream/ And make dreams come true/ if we want them to/ And our friends will come/ Yes all will come play the pipes and drum/ Sing a happy song/ and we'll sing along ..." From the playful "Arm in Arm:" "Their life it was sweet, and after a while (arm in arm in arm in arm)/ They were so pleased to meet their own octopus child (arm in arm in arm in arm) .../ And oh they were joyful and how they did play (arm in arm in arm in arm)/ Our octopus family they danced every day (arm in arm in arm in arm) ..."

Violence & scariness

Lyrics mention images that might, out of context, be considered threatening. From "Froggie Went a-Courtin'," whose origins date back to early 16th century Scotland: "Froggie went a-courtin' and he did ride/With a sword and a pistol by his side …" From David Bowie's "Kooks," a lesson from father to son: "And if you ever have to go to school/ Remember how they messed up this old fool/ Don't pick fights with the bullies or the cads/ 'Cause I'm not much cop at punching other people's dads ..."

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Blue Clouds is a heartwarming collection of original, pop/rock covers, and traditional songs that makes precious listening for the whole family. Renditions of David Bowie, Bill Withers, Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Allman Brothers tunes join traditional songs from Korea, Japan, England, and the U.S., along with several originals on this album. Mitchell's signatures are her inviting voice, skilled musicianship, and song sense that celebrate the richness and joys of childhood. This time around, though, Mitchell delivers tunes with a sense of developing maturity. These are soulful songs that kids of all ages can grow along with for years to come.

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What's the story?

Originally an indie-rock artist, Elizabeth Mitchell turned to making kids' music in 1998. Since then, she and husband Daniel Littleton have released seven albums with help from their daughter Storey and other musical family and friends. The song "Blue Clouds," and eventually this album, grew out of a bedtime story the family enjoyed together every night.

Is it any good?


Elizabeth Mitchell brings a serenity, sincerity, and depth to music unlike any other artist. It's music that resonates in your soul whether you're a wee little one or a big old grown-up. Mitchell's musical sensibilities lend themselves beautifully to her interpretations of traditional and cover songs and well-crafted originals. Her inviting voice blends seamlessly with acoustic guitar, fiddle, banjo, glockenspiel, gentle percussion, and this time, a harmonium's drone, which threads a breath of peace throughout many of these songs.

For those familiar with Mitchell's previous albums, you many notice a subtle difference with BLUE CLOUDS -- there's an unexpected maturity to these songs, making it absolutely one of her best albums yet. Standout tracks are many and include: "Froggie Went a-Courtin'," "Arm in Arm," "San Toki (Mountain Bunny)," "Kooks," "I Wish You Well," "Summer Is Icumen In," "May This Be Love," "Blue Sky (Little Martha Intro)," and "Blue Clouds."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the mood of this album. What are the song's messages and how do they make you feel? Does Mitchell's music match the mood of the songs, and if so, how?

  • Mitchell includes well-crafted cover songs from pop and rock artist that may be familiar to older family members. Consider listening to the original versions of Mitchell's covers. What's special about the songs, and why did Mitchell chose to record them the way she did? How do the different versions compare to each other? Do you like one better that the other?

  • Mitchell also includes two traditional songs from Asia on this recording: "San Toki (Mountain Bunny)" from Korea and "Yuki (Snow)" from Japan. Mitchell first sings each song in the native language, followed by interpretations in English. Try singing along and consider how learning songs in other languages can help you learn about different cultures.

Music details

Artist:Elizabeth Mitchell
Release date:October 23, 2012
Label:Smithsonian Folkways
Genre:Children's Music
Parental advisory:No
Edited version available:No

This review of Blue Clouds was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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