Let's Play!

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Children's music superstar Raffi maintains his stellar standards on this charming 16-song album. Don't be fooled by the title, which is something of a misnomer: this isn't all play music. In fact, it covers a range of moods and subjects, not to mention genres.

The bearded Pied Piper from Canada weaves together a selection of familiar covers and imaginative originals. There's a Celtic folk version of the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine," a delicate piano treatment of "Eensy Weensy Spider" (with an additional, Raffi-penned verse), and, in an interesting choice, an airy rendition of "What a Wonderful World." Among the original numbers, "Raining Like Magic" is sea-breeze calypso, "If You're Happy and You Know It" skips along on Chico Marx-style piano, and "It Takes a Village" is bright reggae with an important message. Reaching farther around the globe, "Tsetang Gangla (On the Playground)" is an adaptation of a traditional Tibetan children's song and the dreamy "May There Always Be Sunshine" alternates between English and Russian. Of special note are "Jane Jane," a bouncy tribute to Dr. Jane Goodall, who studied the chimps of Tanzania for 40 years, and the swingy title track with its nod to legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Instructive, tender, joyful, and thoughtful, this is vintage Raffi. Let's Play! comes with lyrics for all the songs.

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