When Phil Rosenthal visited the record store to buy music for his own children, he noticed a glaring omission: There was very little folk and bluegrass children's music. To remedy this, Rosenthal and his spouse Beth Sommers decided to set up a studio in their basement and start American Melody. Folksongs and Bluegrass for Children collects 16 traditional and original songs from a half-dozen award-winning albums. The catchy "In the Jungle" tells of animals who come out to play at the hour of midnight, and is set to the rhythm of a sparkling banjo. Trumpet and flute are added to "I Had a Little Nut Tree" for an unusual but enjoyable arrangement, while "Open Up the Window, Noah" is straight, bouncy bluegrass. There are lively versions of traditional songs like "Hop High, Ladies" and "The Paw Paw Patch," and nice originals like "The Train Song." Rosenthal's spouse, son, and daughter all perform on the album, making it a family affair. Rosenthal has a warm, inviting voice (as fans of the Seldom Scene will already know). Two previously unreleased songs, "Mama Don't Allow" and "The Teddy Bears' Picnic," have also been included on this collection. One fascinating aspect of this album is how good the acoustic music sounds; it is an integral part of the project, not just an after-thought. This album should be a good place to start for those unfamiliar with Rosenthal's children's music; it is also a nice selection for bluegrass and folk fans who would like to introduce their own kids to quality acoustic music.
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AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.