The Art of the Lull.

Music is a constant in our house. We have cleaning mixes, Sunday morning albums, and classic vinyl on rotation. Nora can usually tell the who, what, and where of a situation by what’s currently playing: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros? Time to dance with Dad before supper. ’40s on 4, Sirius XM? Mom’s doing a project in the kitchen. Sweet Baby James up in her bedroom? Time to line up the Beanie Babies and Trolls- it’s playtime.

We’ve been compiling and collecting lullabies and our favorite kids’ albums since the day we found out we were expecting. Some all-time favorites include In Harmony, any of the classic Sesame Street albums, Free To Be You And Me, and a still gender-nonspecific iTunes playlist entitled “Kid.”

Nora loves them all. She digs a good melody, harmony, key change and rhythm. Here’s what she doesn’t like- pandering lyrics, saccharine sentiments, and downright boring composition. (Oh, did I say Nora? I meant me. But based on her refusal to stay in the room when something of that ilk is played…I can guess that she feels much the same.) So many kids’ albums are that way. And most little ones I know can tell the difference between good and bad music, especially if they’ve heard a ton of it in their fifteen months.

I was beyond excited when I was approached to take a listen to Jane Roman Pitt’s new album, Midnight Lullaby. She’s a singer/songwriter with strong folk/country/classical roots, and her latest is a compilation of non-traditional lullabies from some pretty big names. It’s already gotten some great reviews- at HuffPost, among others- so I figured that I’d give it to one of the toughest critics I know. She’s 30 inches tall, has crazy hair, and a penchant for thumbs and frogs. Here’s what Nora thought of the album.

We played Midnight Lullaby in the playroom, about an hour before I wanted to settle Nora down for a nap. It was a tall order, I realized, as she was darned busy laying waste to every puzzle and pretend piece of food in a three-room radius.

It started with Josh Ritter’s Baby That’s Not All- a song that warranted a bit of a hip wiggle (the universal sign for I Acknowledge The Music You Have Selected.) She also began to rock and pat her Valentine’s Day cards. So, maybe she was feeling soothed. Or needing to soothe. Either way, those cards were getting the treatment.

Wilco’s My Darling- a great tune- actually made me well up a little bit. It was so lovely. Nora paused the coddling of the cards to come give me a pat on the shoulder. Empathy! Or maybe embarrassment. Either way, the puzzle-flinging had ceased.

Tom Waits is an extremely welcome guest in our speakers, so when his Midnight Lullaby played, I decided to spread out a blanket on the floor and just enjoy. And yes, we’ve proven that this album succeeds at lulling the Exhausted Mother set…but Nora joined me, too. (I think the last time that she’d willingly snuggled in my arms was during her raging fever. Before that? Five months of age.)

Maybe it was the quiet time with Nora, or perhaps it was the sweetness of the song, but Bob Dylan’s Forever Young got me sniffling again. And Nora even joined in with her nondescript ‘ah’ singsongy voice which I love. By this point I was ready for a nap, eighteen more children, and a pony for Nora if she’d just keep singing and cuddling.

There are so many highlights on this simple and gentle album: Donovan’s La Moora is a soothing Scottish melody, Jane’s own original tracks on the album add beautiful instrumentation and harmony, and the classic Beatles’ Goodnight/Golden Slumbers is a must-have for parents, anyhow.

Here’s the full track listing:
1. Baby That’s Not All- Josh Ritter
2. My Darling- Wilco
3. Dreaming Sweet Dreams- Hugh Prestwood
4. Lullaby- Dixie Chicks
5. Midnight Lullaby- Tom Waits
6. Welcome Home To Love- Jane Roman Pitt
7. The Sweetest Gift- Sade
8. La Moora- Donovan
9. Whisper Warm- Jane Roman Pitt
10. Forever Young- Bob Dylan
11. Goodnight/Golden Slumbers- Lennon/McCartney

I have a feeling this one’s gonna stay in our rotation. Want it to be in yours? I have an album for giveaway that I’m really stoked to share. Leave a comment below and tell me who needs lulling in your life. I’ll choose a winner next Tuesday, so tell your friends, caregivers and discerning toddlers!

By the way, it worked. Sleep came- quite easily- a mere ten minutes after the album ended.

Oh yeah, and Nora napped, too.

 I made it to the Top Five for Parenting Blogs! Go vote!



Speak Your Mind