Cat Doorman's Songbook
is yet another in a long line of albums by indie rockers
aimed at the entire family, and that's certainly not a bad thing. In fact, Songbook
will open the ears of parents and kids who are not familiar with the organic, thoughtful sounds and words of Julianna Bright (Cat Doorman) and her compadres. The album includes a veritable who's who of northwest indie rock, including musicians from The Decemberists
, The Golden Bears, Built To Spill, Corin Tucker Band, Old Light, AgesAndAges, and Black Prairie.
Cat Doorman is the kids' music moniker of indie singer/songwriter Julianna Bright. The Portland
-based artist is most famous for her gouache, watercolor and ink artwork that has appeared on album covers by The Golden Bears and Sara Jaffe, and on the cover of Mike McGonigal's multimedia Yeti
magazine. She also performs regularly with her band The Golden Bears. Cat Doorman joins a growing group of Portland grownups making earthy music for kids, including Mo Phillips, The Toy Trains, and Professor Banjo (Paul Silveria).
The Music of Cat Doorman's 'Songbook'
Several of the tunes on Songbook
could be part of a grownup indie rock album, and that's the beauty of Cat Doorman's debut: this artist hasn't compromised her vision or style to appeal to kids only. The whole family is invited! Songbook
opens with the joyful "Peaceful," sounding a little like something from the Elephant 6 collective, and featuring nifty drum rolls
by Julianne who plays drums throughout Songbook
. The jaunty "Two Old Shoes" is a great example of Julianna's uncompromising approach to making music for kids and their families: the interesting, literate, and thoughtful lyrics aren't dumbed down a bit in their description of her world view. Next comes a cover of Syd Barrett's "Effervescing Elephant," a favorite of many kids' musicians including Florida's Mr. Harley
and San Francisco's The Sippy Cups
. "All the Birds" come out to adore a child walking in the fields, while the bluesy Americana rock of "So Many Words" puts a unique spin on the ABC song concept, and kids are inspired by a tune on the car radio to change the world for the better during the tender pop of "Turn Around." The piano tune "Madame Claire," sounding like Carole King interpreting The Kinks
' "Sunny Afternoon," is based on Susan Ertz's 1923 book of the same name, describing a young lady who is forced to learn the ways and manners of the genteel in order to be "married off," only to plot her escape.
More Music from Cat Doorman's 'Songbook'
A shimmering guitar opens "Inspiration," a loving lullaby
that sounds like 10,000 Maniacs produced by Daniel Lanois. The lowdown and dirty "Yeah" will remind you of Alabama Shakes or maybe a more subdued Reverend Horton Heat, celebrating dancing friends via a percussive sing-along rave up. The ukulele driven "Let's Get Dressed Up" features a tune that's reminiscent of both "Winter Wonderland" and "Save the Last Dance for Me," while an imaginative "Lonely Girl" is encouraged to shine via a wistful and beautiful tune. "Little Red Wagon," the old folk song based on the even older and now culturally insensitive "Ten Little Indians," will make a great live singalong, and the jazzy, breezy "Whistling Song" describes the wonderfulness of simply hanging out together. Songbook
comes to a soothing close with the waltzing "With Linked Arms," awash in tinkling glockenspiel
, quivering organ, and atmospheric production, as deep and abiding love is professed.
For listeners who enjoy thoughtful, playful, organic, unique music, Cat Doorman's Songbook will be right up your alley. Julianna Bright has done the kids' music world a great service in creating her alter ego Cat Doorman, and we can only hope for more releases from her and her band. One of the best kids' music albums of 2013.
Released January 24, 2013; Night & Day Studios
- "Two Old Shoes"
- "Effervescing Elephant"
- "All the Birds"
- "So Many Words"
- "Turn Around"
- "Madame Claire"
- "Let's Get Dressed Up"
- "Lonely Girl"
- "Little Red Wagon"
- "Whistling Song"
- "With Linked Arms"