Monday, December 12, 2011

Back To The Garden - Ted Jacobs CD Review

Musician/composer Ted Jacobs is dedicated to presenting exquisite acoustic musical settings of the world’s most beloved poetry, and it is with tremendous pride that he announces the release of his third studio CD, Back to the Garden, a collection of songs based on poems from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses.  More than ten years in the making, this album is a companion to Jacobs’ award-winning recording, A Child’s Garden of Songs.
Throughout his highly celebrated life, Robert Louis Stevenson possessed the unique gift of being able to maintain extraordinarily close contact with the spirit of his own childhood, the result of which was his beloved collection of poetry, A Child’s Garden of Verses. Amid the hustle and bustle of today’s world, children are often deprived of time to dream, and, at the same time, there isn’t much stimulus for reflective thinking to be found in the majority of contemporary children’s music.  Back to the Gardenaffords a perfect antidote to urgent schedules and electronic fascination, providing time and space for children to reflect, dream, and imagine while they nurture their creativity with music that’s an ideal match for Stevenson’s poems. All the singers and players who came together to create Ted Jacobs’ A Child’s Garden of Songsreunited to decorate Back to the Garden with the sounds of uillean pipes, fiddle, penny whistles, mandolin, dulcimer, accordion, and other acoustic instruments. Celtic players of olden times would feel right at home with Jacobs’ original compositions, which also sparkle with contemporary relevance. The resulting collaboration has such a way of lighting up the meaning of the poems that children find themselves memorizing without even realizing they are doing so. The poems are sung exactly as the poet wrote them. Nothing is repeated, nothing is deleted and the singing, both ensemble and solo, rings with artistic integrity and beauty.  
Back to the Garden highlights include a waltz-time melody that embraces what may well be Robert Louis Stevenson’s most popular poem, “The Swing.”  Listeners will practically taste the spray of the salty ocean and feel the nautical sway of sea chantey rhythms in “My Ship and I.” The lively energy of “The Hayloft” is beautifully contrasted with the nostalgic reflection of “Keepsake Mill,” whose poetry must have impinged on Stevenson’s thoughts during his years of wandering far from his native Scotland. “Autumn Fires” (a rustic, minor key jig featuring fiddle, fife, and children’s voices) is a sure fire favorite. “The Land of Nod,” whose music incorporates instrumental passages that allow plenty of space for contemplation, is another perfect setting of a poem known to millions. “Escape at Bedtime,” a nocturne transporting listeners of any age to another time and place, brings the album to a dreamy conclusion. 

It is of interest to note that these poems were written by a man in his thirties who had already composed some of his most famous creations while leading a life fraught with high adventure and challenge.  Writing A Child’s Garden of Verses was Stevenson’s way of connecting with childhood memories at a time when adults typically are reflecting on, and sometimes reassessing, their own juvenile experiences from the safety and objectivity of time, often while rearing children of their own.  Listening toBack to the Garden is a beautiful way for parents to reintroduce these poems into their own lives. 

Ted Jacobs' first two albums, A Child’s Garden Of Songs (1999) and The Days Gone By (2000) were honored with the prestigious Parent’s Choice® Award, with A Child’s Garden of Songs receiving a Parents’ Choice® Silver Honor Award and The Days Gone By taking home a Parents’ Choice® Gold Award. The Days Gone By was additionally honored by Parents’ Choice® as one of their “25 Best Albums of the Last 25 Years.”  Both albums also received NAPPA (National Parenting Publications) Gold Awards.

For ages birth to six.
Label: House at the Corner Music
SRP: $14.99
Run time: 33 minutes

You can listen to samples from Back To The Garden, and other projects, here.

My Review:

I am a huge advocate of early literacy and also a lover of all genres of music, so was incredibly excited to review a product that combined both of these subjects. 

Back To The Garden brings to life the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island. The music is hauntingly beautiful, peaceful and playful all in one CD. I found the female voice very reminiscnet of Allison Krauss, with a bluegrass/folk/celtic feel throughout the CD. 

Perfect for nap and night bedtimes, with calm melodies and pretty lyrics, I will definitely be checking out A Child's Garden Of Songs, and The Days Gone By in the near future. I am very excited to have found out via the website that there are future projects to bring to music the work of Robert Frost, Lewis Carroll and Rudyard Kipling, some of my favorite classic children's authors.

If you are looking for a Christmas gift this year for a new baby, or a baby shower gift, I highly recommend Back To The Garden. 

I give this CD a huge thumbs up!

BUY IT: You can purchase Back To The Garden by Ted Jacobs online here

***I received a complimentary copy of this CD, courtesy of Waldmania PR, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

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