Rory McLeod’s new album is a wonderful vote of confidence in our world’s children. And anyone with an ear for a good tune, song or story will love this CD. I could stop right there but I’ll support my argument with a review of his latest CD Songs For Little Big People.
Rory McLeod has produced a great album, 21 tunes, songs and stories which carry us on a journey with the wind. The wind and breath are kind of an overall theme on the album and as pointed out in the sleeve notes some of the material is also used in ‘Huff Puff and Away’ a dance-theatre piece for kids by Scottish Dance Company ‘Tabularasa’. Right from the start the rhythm of the tap shoes, percussion and guitar claims your attention, and the voices and syncopated rhythms of breath tells you straight away that here is someone who can tell a story, sing, play and mix it all up into a magic potion.
I think one of the ideas behind this, was to make an album of new songs and stories for children which broke away from the sometimes rather condescending pat-on-the-head approach. It does exactly that, it’s full of poetry and wisdom on life. Windfall is a story of relativity, how meanings and abstracts exist not in spite of but because of their opposites. This is told in the story of a windfall, a year of good luck, when the apples fell down from the trees and harvest was easy. ‘If some people didn’t have bad luck there would be no luck at all’. Other favourites are Death In A Nutshell, a little story of the big things in life, Where the Wind Lives, a wonderful personification of the wind in all its disguises, Heaving Breath for its catchy tune and Balloon Dance just because it makes my daughter smile and twirl. With this album Rory McLeod will feed our children’s imagination and breathe a little life into our own.
In which the inimitable Rory McLeod joins the likes of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton and Cilla Fisher in making a children’s album. But Rory being Rory is several steps beyond nursery rhymes and while the themes and imagery certainly have child appeal, it carries enough charm and wit to appeal to grown-ups too. Songs, tunes and monologues all come with that glint in the eye and sideways smile that invariably characterises the McLeod songbook, with invigorating harmonica, trombone, guitar, banjo and all manner of percussion and tap dancing to keep you listening.
A lot of the material is already tried and tested having originated in a theatre piece for children, Huff Puff And Away, performed with the Scottish dance company Tabularasa, and there’s one particularly compelling story, Death In A Nutshell, sometimes told by Taffy Thomas. And if anyone fancies calling on Rory for tea one day, then full and detailed instructions are given in the absurdly infectious Directions song. Fun for all the family.