Childhood II is the follow-up to Christine Brown’s 2004 release Childhood: Comforting Music for Parent and Child. Like the first album, these are Brown’s arrangements of familiar children’s songs, presented in medleys played on piano and keyboard with sampled strings and sometimes guitar, flute, and atmospheric sounds. Christine Brown is a magnificent pianist and composer, so her occasional collections of arrangements of familiar songs are always fun to listen to. Some of the thirteen tracks are fairly complex while others are more simple. Most are performed at a tempo that would encourage relaxation, a nap, or even bedtime. There are more than twenty individual songs counting the medleys, and one Christine Brown original, “Hopscotch.” What a great way to introduce little ones to their heritage of children’s music, and I’m sure toddlers and youngsters will love to sing along with the songs they already know. This is truly an album the whole family can enjoy!
Childhood II begins with a medley of “Bicycle Built for Two” and “Billy Boy,” a charming opening that sets the stage for what is to come. “Sing a Song of Sixpence” paired with “Pop Goes the Weasel” is the most elegant and graceful rendition of these two songs you’re likely to ever hear. “Farmer in the Dell” and “Three Blind Mice” are dancelike and carefree although the strings keep them grounded. I read some time ago that you can walk down a street in any city in the world and hear someone playing “Fur Elise.” I doubt that’s true, but it is certainly one of the most-taught pieces in piano lessons for students of any age. Brown’s arrangement incorporates the familiar melody with an original interpretation for piano, strings, and guitar. Fun! I was captivated by Brown’s lovely version of “Down By the Station” and couldn’t believe that it was paired with “Do Your Ears Hang Low”! I have to admit that this one made me laugh out loud. “You Are My Sunshine” is prefaced with a few bars of “Over the Rainbow,” creating a sweet and gentle love song. “Hopscotch” is playful and innocent, dancing around the piano keys with strings, bells, and light percussion in the background. “This Old Man” and “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” are wistful and dreamy. The closing medley is a piano solo simply titled “America (patriotic medley),” and includes “America,” “America the Beautiful,” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” – a strong and heartfelt ending!
Childhood II is a great gift for children (and inner children!) of all ages. It is available from www.christinebrownpiano.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby.