A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the whole family can enjoy this blend of stories and songs in English and Spanish, but its production may be too complex for clear bilingual learning.
What's the story?
THE PEANUT MAN pulses with percussion, guitars, woodwinds, keyboards, cello, children's voices, and the vocals of Latin songbird Maria Del Rey. The title track, \"The Peanut Man,\" implies a collection for young children, and several of the story/songs fulfill that promise. Perhaps the easiest sing-along is the short \"Vamos A La Mar/Let's Go to the Sea.\" The simple verses repeat in English and Spanish. In \"The Donkey/El Burro\" a list builds upon itself -- \"lemon drops, a yellow vest, white scarf, black cap, tap tap tap\" -- in a clean arrangement conducive to bilingual learning for young ears. \"Los Pollitos/Baby Chicks\" begins as a fun salsa paced well for kids to sing along, but then it goes to a rock production that is inaccessible for catching the lyrics. \"Konex--The Maya Story of Corn\" is an exotic mix of beautiful melody, rain stick, bird-like flutes, and Spanish and English spoken and sung, but the sophisticated vocal styling makes words difficult to distinguish. The sweet \"La Pajara Pinta/The Speckled Bird\" asks simply \"Does my sweetheart love me or no?\" but the voice becomes buried in the mix.
Is it any good?
At times, the rich instrumentation and Del Rey's styling overpower the lyrics -- a problem for an album touting "easy assimilation" of English and Spanish. Lyrics in the liner notes would help, but listeners are instructed to go to Del Rey's Web site for translations. Yet Latin Grammy Nominee Del Rey's vocal gifts are bountiful and her musicians first-rate, and the album realizes its intent to be a "parent friendly" recording and a "fun bilingual exploration."