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Elizabeth Mitchell - Blue Clouds

Mitchell's 'Blue Clouds' Shine Brightly

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating


Elizabeth Mitchell - Blue Clouds

Elizabeth Mitchell - Blue Clouds

Courtesy Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Elizabeth Mitchell has done it once again. The kids' music star's latest masterpiece, Blue Clouds, continues her trend of performing imaginative original tunes, reinterpreting pop songs, and uncovering world music treasures. Blue Clouds refamiliarizes families with traditional songs like "Hop Up, My Ladies" and "Froggie Went a-Courtin'" while introducing young listeners to tunes by Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, David Bowie, Bill Withers, and The Allman Brothers Band. Mitchell hits another perfect chord with Blue Clouds, one of the best kids' music CDs of 2012.

The Artist

Elizabeth Mitchell and her husband Daniel Littleton have been making music together for years as the indie folk rock band Ida. Mitchell's side project as a children's musician, though, has skyrocketed her to international fame as a sort of new folk collector. She and husband Daniel Littleton have released six albums for families, including 1998's You Are My Flower, 2002's You Are My Sunshine, her 2006 major label debut You Are My Little Bird (Smithsonian Folkways), 2010's Sunny Day, and both Little Seed: Songs for Children by Woody Guthrie and Blue Clouds in 2012.

The Music of Elizabeth Mitchell's 'Blue Clouds'

Blue Clouds kicks off energetically with "Hop Up, My Ladies," a traditional tune made popular by Ruth Crawford Seeger and performed on the Seeger family's Animal Folk Songs for Children...and Other People! Mitchell plays the classic "Froggie Went a-Courtin'" in the "King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O" style, covered recently by Laura Viers on her CD Tumble Bee and by guitar master Doc Watson on his 1990 album Doc Watson Sings Songs for Little Pickers. Sister-in-law Anna Padgett's "Arm in Arm" is based on Remy Charlip's 1969 children's book of the same name, whose dreamy artwork graces the CD cover and song booklet. The sprightly Korean folk song "San Toki (Mountain Bunny)" is flavored by Jean Cook's multitracked violin.

David Bowie recorded "Kooks" for his 1971 album Hunky Dory, one of his best collections of songs. Bowie wrote the song to his then recently born son, and the tune's sweet affection translates nicely to Mitchell's more acoustic version. "I Wish You Well" is a Bill Withers' song originally found on his 1975 album Making Music. Mitchell's version is a little more low-key and mantra-like, allowing the repeated title phrase to act as both a greeting and farewell full of good karma. The centuries-old "Summer is Icumen In" features lyrics in Middle English and invites all to sing in round. Anna Padgett wrote "Rollin' Baby" for her 2009 children's album The Good Ms. Padgett, and she and her sister-in-law Elizabeth Mitchell turn in a great bluegrass version for Blue Clouds.

More Music from Elizabeth Mitchell's 'Blue Clouds'

"The Little Bird" was written by Susan Bergman and "Circle of the Sun" was written by Sally Rogers, and both songs are beautifully interpreted by Mitchell and friends. "Moon Don't Go" is a brief and mysterious call-and-response song originally written and recorded by Ella Jenkins for her 1957 debut album Call and Response: Rhythmic Group Singing. Van Morrison's "Everyone" was recorded for his 1970 classic Moondance, and Mitchell performs the lilting waltz in her own quiet style.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience included "May This Be Love" on their remarkable debut album Are You Experienced in 1967, and Mitchell quietly captures the imagery and sentiments of friendship found in the original. The Japanese folk song "Yuki (Snow)" is followed by Mitchell's wonderful rendition of The Allman Brothers' "Blue Sky" (with a brief "Little Martha" intro), which originally appeared on the 2011 compilation Putumayo Kids Presents: Acoustic Dreamland. The Allman Brothers Band recorded the song (and "Little Martha") for their awesome 1972 double album Eat a Peach. Blue Clouds ends appropriately and quietly with the title track, a lullaby from father to daughter.

The Verdict

Blue Clouds continues Elizabeth Mitchell's string of flawless collections of music for families. Her original compositions and her choices of cover tunes and traditional songs are, as usual, heads and shoulders above most of the children's music crowd, making Blue Clouds one of the best kids' music CDs of 2012.

Released October 23, 2012; Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Track Listing

  1. "Hop Up, My Ladies"
  2. "Froggie Went a-Courtin'"
  3. "Arm in Arm"
  4. "San Toki (Mountain Bunny)"
  5. "Kooks"
  6. "I Wish You Well"
  7. "Summer is Icumen In"
  8. "Rollin' Baby"
  9. "The Little Bird"
  10. "Circle of the Sun"
  11. "Moon Don't Go"
  12. "Everyone"
  13. "May This Be Love"
  14. "Yuki (Snow)"
  15. "Blue Sky (with "Little Martha" intro)"
  16. "Blue Clouds"
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