Review Summary: Come up horsey, hey hey...
Becoming a parent has a habit of changing one's outlook on life, and on the surface that would certainly seem to be the case with Laura Veirs. The 38 year-old songstress has always shown herself capable of excelling in the art of pastoral folk loveliness, but becoming a mother for the first time has led her to a style that fits her talents perfectly. If you've not already gathered, Tumble Bee is, as it's sleeve states, an album of folk covers for children, and although it sees Veirs embarking on new musical ground the impression you get while listening is that few artists currently in action would make a better fist of such a niche.
Lullabies might be a feverishly simple form of music, but you'd be surprised how challenging it is to perfect them as Veirs does rather frequently here. As you'd expect, it's a record that's perennially upbeat, friendly and wouldn't sound out of place in a creche full of bratty unappreciative two year olds. Thankfully, though, its appeal reaches far broader than that. You'll be hard pushed to find an adult who won't crack a smile to 'King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O,' and wonderful melodies such as those of the classics 'Little Lap-Dog Lullaby' and 'The Fox' have provided the essence of all great pop music down the ages. Indeed the fact that these traditional songs remain popular today proves their immense staying power, which is at odds with the simplicity with which they are driven.
To her credit, Veirs channels these basic aspects brilliantly. Her cutesy, inviting voice suits this particular genre to perfection, while her stripped down acoustic takes of the songs exposes the raw qualities within each cut. Her rendition of Woodie Guthrie's 'Why Oh Why' is especially lovely, as is 'Soldier's Joy,' which features a contribution from Decemberists mastermind Colin Meloy, but in fairness there are only a handful of tracks which don't hit that particularly pleasant spot. Indeed while it may not be her strongest album from a creative perspective, Tumble Bee certainly ranks among her most enjoyable, and should provide a welcome dose of cheer during the bleak winter months ahead. A simple and rather juvenile pleasure it may be, but the enjoyment we can gain from albums like this proves that there's still a child alive in all of us.