Family Values

Music review by
Kim Alessi, Common Sense Media
Family Values Music Poster Image
Family rock with messages of peace, compassion, love, joy.

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

Educational Value

The education here is not a standard textbook one, but one more important: these songs model positive social skills and character traits that are learned and practiced through human interaction. A partial list of these from "We Are The Ones" sums it up -- "Loving kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity, patience, understanding, generosity, community, intention, non-harming, gratitude, respect, mindfulness, truth, peace." Sanskrit translations of these terms are also included in the album's liner notes and are cornerstones to Buddhist and Hindu philosophies and practices like yoga and meditation. Also reinforcing these concepts are thought-provoking quotes dotted throughout the album's liner notes. Some are from more familiar Western thinkers, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Mr. Rogers, Marianne Williamson, Alice Walker, Albert Einstein, and even Leonard Nimoy and Oprah Winfrey. It's also a great introduction to great Eastern thinkers including Gandhi, Thich Nhat Hanh, Hafiz, the Dalai Lama, and Pema Chodron. 

Positive Messages

This album exudes positivity. From "Peace Pledge:" "We pledge allegiance to the path of peace and loving kindness, and to the dream for which is stands: One planet, infinite life, interdependent, with freedom, food, and understanding for all." In "Love Is Here," love can be found everywhere: "You can find love in your neighborhood…in the big, wide world…in your very best friend, or in one you've only known for a moment." 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Positive role models abound in this album. A girl plants a garden to feed the world in "Green Beans Everywhere:" "Then all the children of the world held each other's hands/and we danced around the rainbow garden growing in our land/And we had a picnic under the stars and we shared all our food…now think about that for a minute or two." Kindness is used as a force against evil in "Lemonade:" "So they mixed him up a special brew, put a little mint in for something new/And offered it to that dragon in the spirit of love and generosity…"

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Family Values is a great collection of meaningful rock songs for the whole family. The album's message of loving kindness is threaded throughout each song, some of which hint at rock classics by Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, Carole King, The Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, even Pearl Jam. The album's title reclaims the notion of family values as a love and acceptance of all. Charity and her Band jam-pack these gems with compassion, even a bit of silliness, making it the perfect album for family time.

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What's the story?

FAMILY VALUES is the fifth album by San Francisco-based Charity Kahn and the JAM Band. The band's positive and melodic messages are guided by acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, piano, and a full-on rock band. The album's CD insert contains thought-provoking quotes from peacemakers including Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, the 14th Dalai Lama, and many more.

Is it any good?

If you're a fan of classic rock and thoughtful lyrics, then Family Values would be a fantastic addition to your music collection. It's a family-friendly album that embraces the core values of love, kindness, and community in a groovy Zen-like way. The songs are well crafted, with hooky melodies, lilting vocals, and at times mesmerizing harmonies, with messages that go straight to the soul. So yes, young kids can grasp these heady concepts of compassion and community, peace and love, because they're character traits we practice every day. (For an extra dose of goodness, check out the quotes dotted throughout the album's liner notes -- they'll spark more thoughts supporting Charity's message.) Standout tracks are many and include "Family Values," " Lovingkindness," "Lemonade," "Bike," "Love Is Here," "Green Beans Everywhere," "Grateful," " We Are The Ones," and "You Are My Sunshine."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the many positive character traits on display here, including compassion, joy, patience, understanding, community, and global love and peace. Talk about these traits and how we practice them in our everyday lives.

  • Some of these songs sound like they were inspired by rock music from the past. Why do you think Charity cites these music styles in her own music?

  • The album's liner notes have many thought-provoking quotes interspersed between the lyrics. Read some and talk about their meaning. The liner notes also have Sanskrit translations for many positive character traits such as compassion. These terms are commonplace in Buddhist and Hindu practices like yoga and meditation. Consider adding these terms into your family's everyday vocabulary.

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