Kathy Parsons’ Review of “The Lullaby Album”

Lullaby Album Cover copyThe Lullaby Album
Carolyn Southworth & Jennifer Thomas
2009 / Tickled Ivory Music & Heron’s Point Music
Disc 1: 53.4 minutes Disc 2: 48.9 minutes

The Lullaby Album is a very special two-disc collection of traditional and original lullabies composed, arranged and performed by Carolyn Southworth and Jennifer Thomas. Disc One is piano with orchestra and Disc Two is the same songs as piano solos. Two factors make this album unusual. The first is that Jennifer Thomas is Carolyn Southworth’s daughter, and the second is that they teamed up to create music that Jennifer’s baby, a problem sleeper, could fall asleep to. As they say in the liner notes, all of the music has been tried, tested and “Preston approved.” Both pianists are classically trained, both are piano teachers, and each has released a solo album. Without the liner notes, it is not obvious who is playing which songs, so the album is smooth, polished, and heartfelt from beginning to end. The artists’ intention with the two discs was that the solo piano CD would be for calming at bedtime and the orchestrated one is “for those who like a little more to listen to.” Paul Speer did the mixing and mastering of the album, and Jace Vek contributed orchestrations for four of the pieces. I really can’t say I prefer one CD over the other – I love the simple honesty of solo piano, but the orchestrated versions are compelling, too. I’m glad I don’t have to choose!

Both discs begin with Brahms’ Lullaby, probably the best-known lullaby in the world. Jennifer Thomas’ solo piano arrangement is tender and sweet. Carolyn Southworth’s “Sweet Dreams” appears three times – as a piano solo, orchestrated with piano, and with vocals. All three versions are gorgeous, but I think I like the solo version best. There are several other high points on the solo CD. Thomas’ “Baby of Mine (Preston’s Song)” is a favorite, filled with love and wonder. Another favorite is Southworth’s arrangement of “All the Pretty Little Horses,” a poignant minor key beauty. Thomas’ “Un Petit Nocturne” is a classically influenced gem. Her “Dancing On the Clouds” is dreamy and magical, as is Southworth’s take on “Old Scottish Lullaby.” Thomas’ arrangement of Billy Joel’s “Goodnight, My Angel” is heartbreakingly beautiful.

Highlights of the piano with orchestra CD include “Baby of Mine,” where the piano is backed with strings and percussion and “Un Petit Nocturne” with harp and angelic voices as accompaniment. Jace Vek’s orchestration gives “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” a very Celtic flavor that includes bagpipe and tambourine – a spirited and fascinating arrangement! Vek also orchestrated “Old Scottish Lullaby,” this time with full orchestra – absolutely dreamy! Thomas keeps the orchestration behind “Goodnight, My Angel” simple, adding strings to embellish the enchanting melody. “Unseen Angel” begins with very spare accompaniment, but becomes almost cinematic with full orchestration as it builds and then gently ebbs back to solo piano.

Jennifer Thomas and Carolyn Southworth have created a very personal yet very universal collection with The Lullaby Album. Even if you don’t have children in your household, give your inner child a treat with this warm and soothing recording. Both of the CDs are full and rich, and should appeal to hearts of any age. I think I’ll cuddle up with my blankie and listen to this music again! It’s available from http://www.carolynsouthworth.com, http://www.jenniferthomasmusic.com, Amazon, and CD Baby. Highly recommended!

Kathy Parsons
MainlyPiano.com

8/17/09

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3 responses to “Kathy Parsons’ Review of “The Lullaby Album”

  1. That’s a spectacular review!!! I’m really glad it’s being received so well. How is it that you’re finding people to review it, anyway? I’m having a hard time finding reputable people to review mine. Not that the people who have reviewed it haven’t been reputable, but you know what I mean!

    I’m really proud of you two. Your hard work has totally paid off.

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