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 2008’s equally brilliant follow up Family Tree. That album topped many best of lists that year, including our own Best Kids’ Music of 2008. England followed up with her third kids' album, Mind of My Own, in late 2010.
On Mind of My Own, Frances England is joined by Jeff Koch and Fred Jennings on drums; Andrew Higgins on bass and guitar; producer Tor Hyams on organ and bells; Evan Price on violin; David Phillips on pedal steel guitar; Sean Sullivan, Doug Snyder, and Geoff Pearlman on guitar; and Mates Of State on vocals.
Mind of My Own was produced by Tor Hyams, who has become the producer of choice lately in the kindie rock work. Hyams’ additional kids’ music production credits include Recess Monkey, Lunch Money, The Okee Dokee Brothers, Jim Cosgrove, Milkshake, and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. And make sure to check out the creative album artwork, all done by Frances England herself.
The Music of 'Mind of My Own'
Frances England and band perform spirited acoustic indie rockers like “Place In Your Heart,” “Vacation Delights,” and “All the Ways;” hiccup-y rockabilly numbers like “Mind of My Own” and “Come Back Home;” as well as tunes full of Americana country twang like “Ladybug,” “High on the Mountainside,” and “To Be.” But these aren’t just silly kid songs: I can totally see someone like Jewel topping the contemporary Country Music Charts with either “Ladybug” or “Big Heart,” or a song like “Place in Your Heart” finding heavy rotation on a college radio station.
Mind of My Own kicks off with the spirited title track, a song that sounds like a modern skiffle tune crossed with the punk rock mindset of independence, extolling the virtues of children’s imaginations and ideas. “Do You Hear the Birds Singing?” is a happy Appalachian jig that features the violin talents of Evan Price (who has performed with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Stephane Grappelli, and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant), while the sincere and heart-felt tribute song “Jacques Cousteau” celebrates the famous explorer, and drives home the message that “we’re all connected.”
More Music from 'Mind of My Own'
The shuffling guitar and piano tune “Red Balloon” catalogues the wonders of early childhood; while “Ladybug” is an absolutely beautiful, almost perfect country pop tune that could (and should) be a hit on Top 40 radio (listen for David Phillips’ understated but soaring pedal steel guitar). “Place in Your Heart” is a great indie rock song that features Mates Of State, and describes the relationship between a child and a toy (from the toy’s perspective); while the waltzing “Bicycle” updates “Tricycle” from England’s debut Fascinating Creatures.
The country-ish “High on the Mountainside,” with its spirited pedal steel, is reminiscent of New Riders of the Purple Sage; and the rockin’ “Cookies and Milk” features a guitar solo from The Jellydots’ Doug Snyder. The hand-clappin’, rip-roarin’ “Vacation Delights” remembers family car trips; while the quieter follow up tune encourages us simply “To Be.” The Sun Records-inspired “Come Back Home” begs Dad to return as soon as possible; and a kid describes “All the Ways” he shows his family love, via a super upbeat, Violent Femmes-like tune. “Pieces of Me” is a kid’s cute description of all the things in his room that make him what he is; while album-closer “Big Heart,” the only tune on Mind of My Own sung from a grownup’s perspective, is a quiet love song from parent to child.
Frances England’s Mind of My Own continues her streak of superb kids’ music albums, and only strengthens her prowess in the field. An expanded band and a widened musical palate served Frances England well in creating the music of Mind of My Own, placing that album firmly in our list of Best Kids’ Music of 2011.
Released November 9, 2010; Frances England
- "Mind of My Own"
- "Do You Hear the Birds Singing?"
- "Jacques Cousteau"
- "Red Balloon"
- "Place in Your Heart" (featuring Mates of State)
- "High on the Mountainside"
- "Cookies & Milk"
- "Vacation Delights"
- "To Be"
- "Come Back Home"
- "All the Ways"
- "Pieces of Me"
- "Big Heart"