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Frances England - Fascinating Creaures

Out-of-Nowhere Kids' Music Debut is a Gem!

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

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kindie rock
Courtesy Frances England
Frances England's Fascinating Creatures was initially a one-off fundraising project that eventually resulted in one of the most critically-acclaimed kids' albums in recent years.

The Artist

Frances England, a mom and musician living in San Francisco, recorded her first CD for kids, 2006's Fascinating Creatures, as a fundraiser for her son's preschool. After word-of-mouth and internet buzz made the CD a critically-acclaimed smash, England decided to continue her career in kids' music, resulting in the equally brilliant follow up albums Family Tree and Mind of My Own.

The Music of 'Fascinating Creatures'

Sometimes spaces between notes are as powerful as the music itself. Frances England has created a powerfully simple, simply powerful collection of songs for her debut album, Fascinating Creatures.

Other than Ms. England’s voice, all you’ll hear are strummed guitars, maracas, the occasional clave, and a rare visit from a drum set. Ghostly, distant notes float across many of the songs, along with faint, whispery backing vocals. If Daniel Lanois produced Sam Phillips, the result might sound a little like Fascinating Creatures, but to be honest this CD is so wonderfully unique, it’s hard to properly describe.

Suburban childhood activities abound: planting a little garden; painting; riding a tricycle; wondering where trains, planes and boats go when they leave our sight; reading favorite books; eating pancakes.

The highlight is the title track, a song that should be on everyone’s best-of-2006 list. Dreamy, unadorned, cosmic…one can’t say enough about this song. The inadvertently audible hum of a guitar amp and the imperfect tempo make the tune even more beautiful. The buzzy chorus of “Busy As a Bee” will make a great Toddler Time sing along, and on “Charlie Parker” you get a who’s who of bebop, plus the scat chorus is impossible not to sing along with.

The Verdict

At about 29 minutes, Fascinating Creatures is a short but quietly powerful little CD. If you’re alone, listen to the album on your headphones while you lie on your back in the middle of a grassy field. If you’re hanging out with your kid, play this record while you color together or plant seedlings in an old egg carton. This is a truly indie-rock kids’ album, and a fantastic one at that. Oh, and be sure to check out Frances' great cover artwork!

Released May 31, 2006; Frances England

'Fascinating Creatures' Track Listing

  1. "Sometimes"
  2. "Tricycle"
  3. "Paint a Picture"
  4. "Fascinating Creatures"
  5. "Daddy-O"
  6. "Busy as a Bee"
  7. "Charlie Parker"
  8. "Digging in the Dirt"
  9. "Whaere Do They Go?"
  10. "The Books I Like to Read"
  11. "Blue Canoe"
  12. "Blueberry Pancakes"
  13. "Little Bright Star"
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