Down at the Sea Hotel: A Greg Brown Songbook

Music review by
Amy Weaver, Common Sense Media
Down at the Sea Hotel: A Greg Brown Songbook Music Poster Image
Whimsical yet mellow folksy tunes for tots.

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The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Breast Cancer Fund, an organization dedicated to eliminating the environmental causes of breast cancer.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the 14 mellow songs on this delightful album were written by such luminaries as Neil Young, Tom Waits, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. They're performed, however, by a less famous -- but very talented -- group of artists. Legendary folkie Greg Brown wrote the title song, which inspired the accompanying children's book.

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What's the story?

Seemingly inspired by sea shanties and carnival tunes (listen for the accordion and harmonica), DOWN AT THE SEA HOTEL has an appealing archival quality that will send kids to sleep with their imaginations humming. Richly illustrated by Mireille Levert, winner of the Governor General's Literature Award in Canada, the album comes with either a gorgeous 40-page illustrated book (at a higher price point) or a downloadable (and printable) version.

Is it any good?

Down at the Sea Hotel: A Greg Brown Songbook is delightfully mellow, with songs written by such musical icons as Neil Young, Tom Waits, and Mary Chapin Carpenter --and performed by a group of very talented artists. There's an oblique quality to the lyrics on the CD that elevates it above many albums aimed at kids, and the irreverence and playfulness will keep adult ears attuned, too.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how musical projects come together and how many people can collaborate to create something special. This one has many components -- the illustrator, the writers of the songs (many of them famous), and the performers (most of them lesser-known). Why do some people become famous and others (perhaps just as talented) don't? Is becoming famous always the most important thing, or is it enough to be respected by those who truly appreciate your work? In an era of reality shows where everyone can be in the spotlight, the quiet pleasures of folk music can be a welcome respite.

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