On this lovely Friday afternoon, I have a review of Meredith Wright's debut album Sweetbeatz (Soulful Songs for City Kids). Hailing from New York City, with a background in theater, Wright has created a collection of 13 songs that span many genres (funk, rock, swing, and spoken chants) with a rhythmic foundation that ties it all together.
Despite the subtitle (Soulful Songs for City Kids), I bet you'll love this one even if you live out in the country. It could be the theatrical background, or the funky vibe on this album that reminds me (musically) of the soundtrack to Hair. Bassist Jerome Harris can lay down an impressive groove with his slap-bass style (like on the songs Hairdo and Boots), but there are also quiet, sweet moments on the CD (Goodbye, Lucky and All Day Long).
The songs on Sweetbeatz tend to be longer than the typical 2 min. kids' tune. Songs like Neighborhood develop and evolve, taking the listener on a musical journey. With songs like Cookies, All Day Long, My Dancing Feet and Playdate, Wright plays with the traditional, spoken chants that I recall from preschool. Young listeners will certainly respond to the rhythmic recitations and parents may just find themselves chanting "Pick the time, pick the day, holler out you wanna play," even when there are no kids around.
The Mike Brady Wrap-up: As I mentioned before, you don't have to live in the city to enjoy Sweetbeatz. Meredith Wright's lovely voice and sweet harmonies put a smile on my face. The lyrics and imagery are perfect for the young Pre-K crowd, but the music is skillfully composed and well produced. There's a mix of the simple chants that inspire the wee ones to chant along, and the more complex songwriting from the theatrical and jazz traditions. That, plus a bunch of great dancing music, is what Sweetbeatz is all about. Give it a listen and I know you'll be singing along.
Kid Quote of the Day: "What will you eat for Thanksgiving?" I asked the students in my music class one at a time. "Shushi!" ~Luca (age: 3)