Friday, March 20, 2009

***Shāna Barry***

Somewhere between Kimya Dawson's wordy stream-of-consciousness songs and Nick Drake's whispery dream fever tunes lies Shāna Barry's first album for kids, A Pink Whale and a Very Tall Tree.

The Frances England-sounding eight-song EP contains a group of very visual songs: close your eyes and let the lyrics tell you stories about the special secret island of fōf, described in great detail on "Around the Island" and "The Great Mystery;" and about the adventures of a curious fōfer named Otamo who encounters and befriends "The Pink Whale" named Guinivere and climbs a very tall tree to "Cloudland."

Like any normal kid, Otamo loves to talk about "The Day I Learned to Ride My Bike," but then gets philosophical with "Some are Green," an ode to diversity and acceptance. The short album is rounded off with a lullaby and an instrumental. Barry performs the songs with just her voice and guitar, and an occasional ukulele. The stark musical background is a perfect palate for lines like "I hop from rock to rock and peer into tide pools," and "The rogue wave passed us by," and "Who wants a humdrum earth when it can be vibrant and grand," and words like chicory, anemones, cumulonimbus, and centripetal.

A beautiful, quiet, mysterious album that honors kids by challenging their perceptions and vocabularies. Kudos to Shāna Barry.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh man I liked your "tall tree" tag, I thought it was endearing...

Anonymous said...

Tales of grand imagination, with a sweet lightness and purity that makes my heart happy...A fine and peaceful escape filled with love and lessons.

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