Shake Sugaree: Taj Mahal Sings And Plays For Children
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that '"Light Rain," a song about betting on the ponies, and "Shake Sugaree," with its chorus about pawning everything before going to heaven, are strange choices for a children's album. In general, Mahal's light, soulful tone makes up for these odd lyrics.
What's the story?
Veteran bluesman Taj Mahal guides young listeners through this traditional American art form. (Several tracks are by African-American women, and featured folk songs come from West Africa and the Caribbean.)
Is it any good?
Blues may seem like an ambitious musical choice for young children, but Taj Mahal creates an intimate storytelling atmosphere. His folksy introductions, his two young children (they're the playful back-up singers), and his bright guitar-picking all help make the music accessible to kids.
In "Fishin' Blues," Mahal's sunny guitar-picking and ringing harmonics sound like a warm summer day on a muddy riverbank, inspiring images of jumping fish and glinting water. "Brown Girl in the Ring" is a danceable Caribbean folk song with infectious lyrics. The song's drum machine dance beat is contrived, but Taj's tempo and enthusiasm are disarming. The album ends with "Little Brown Dog," a sweet, melancholy child's dream of riding around the world on a big-eared, long-legged brown dog.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about traditional American folk music after a listen to this album. Most educational value, though, comes from the rhythmic movement and singing this music will inspire.