Reviewed by Michael Debbage
It is very clear by the title of the album that this is a specialty project. But how is this album different from any other lullaby album? It is a very personal project with Jennifer Thomas dedicating it to her first-born, Preston. And to add to the tie that binds, Jennifer extended that collaboration to her mother Carolyn Southworth, keeping it all in the family. But to those of you that may be put off by the specialty label, the album is a double feature, one of which includes some orchestration, resulting in an album that not only has a special purpose but also includes the entertainment factor.
The Lullaby Album includes 3 original compositions from each artist with the remaining balance relying on some very familiar tunes. On the latter, the album opens with the infamous “Brahms Lullaby” with Thomas taking the lead on the arrangement. In complete contrast, Thomas gives “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” a significant makeover thanks to the wonderful orchestration assistance from Jace Vek. As far as her original compositions are concerned there is the warm and fluid “Baby Of Mine” in contrast with the more classically based “Un Petit Nocturne” both impressive for completely different reasons.
Southworth’s cover contributions come courtesy of the mystical “Old Scottish Lullaby” and the Appalachian “All The Pretty Horses”. But her best original contribution and for that matter the album’s finer moment, is the utterly moving “Unseen Angel”. The song opens with Southworth’s memorable melody that is fleshed out with Jace Vek’s inspirational orchestration, paralleling the emotive tug that John Barry and Tim Janis are more than capable of doing on any given day. Whether in the stripped down version found on the solo disc or with the orchestration, this song alone is worth the price of admission.
Back in 2006 both mother and daughter released their debut albums. Southworth focused on a mainstream effort while Thomas introduced her unique blend of classical trimmings clothed in a New Age mainstream effort, bringing a sense of warmth to her music. Here they have managed to blend their own musical influences to compose a specialty album that also includes an intrinsic entertainment value. With or without child, The Lullaby Album double feature is not only an album of significant quantity but also one of quality material. Whether or not Southworth and Thomas will collaborate again remains to be seen. But there is no doubting that we can expect to hear more wonderful material from these two very different artists.