Once in a great while we encounter an artist who stands consciously and directly in the tradition of children's music that Folkways has carried for nearly 60 years, and Elizabeth Mitchell is one such artist. Her lovely voice brings a fresh sound to cherished American folk songs and other melodies from around the world. In a peaceful yet powerful way, she reintroduces us to the songs we thought we knew so well. Featuring homespun renditions of songs by Woody Guthrie, Bob Marley, The Velvet Underground, Vashti Bunyan, Gillian Welch and more! 28-page booklet, 17 tracks, 35 minutes.
Elizabeth Mitchell is to childrens music what a band like True Love is to indie rock: an insider's darling. Which can only mean one thing: any day now, she's going to blow up huge. You Are My Little Bird
, Mitchell's third kids CD and her first on the well-respected Smithsonian Folkways label, hews closely to the folkie-but-never-hokey sensibility she laid out so beautifully on the first two records. Here are 17 short, soft, sweet, homespun-sounding songs, some of them easily recognizable ("Peace Like a River," "Three Little Birds," "Down in the Valley"), some of them inexplicably obscure (Neil Young's "Little Wing," Gillian Welch and David Rawling's "Winter's Come and Gone," Francois Hardy's magical "If You Listen"). Throughout, even on tracks where her young daughter joins in, Mitchell's warm whisper of a voice compels a close listen, not just because the production is so spare you can practically feel her breath on your cheek but because there's something in her phrasing that suggests an old, wise soul. Miraculously, the bird concept never gets clunky; two exotic foreign-language songs--one Korean and one Japanese--help, but the real credit belongs to this all-around superb disc's sole stab at the subversive: Mitchell's stamp on "What Goes On," the Velvet Underground favorite, practically sails off the disc with its sunniness. --Tammy La Gorce