Various Artists

For the Kids Too!

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Nettwerk America and VH1's second installment in their For the Kids series offers up an another eclectic roster of alternative, folk, indie, and modern rock faces to raise money for the Lili Claire Foundation. For the most part, the songs are genuinely fun, endlessly playful, and appealing to both young and old. Choice covers -- Bay area singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson turns Prince's "Starfish and Coffee" into a Dave Matthews-style acoustic romp, Matthew Sweet gives the Beatles' "Goodnight" all of the lullaby warmth that it deserves, and Ron Sexsmith takes a walk down Sesame Street with "Very First Day" -- and spirited originals abound, but it's the lack of pretense that permeates the project as a whole that makes each offering so listenable. So why does Jason Mraz feel the need to turn "Rainbow Connection," a track that already appeared on the first collection, sung by Sarah McLachlan, into a hack Jeff Buckley/Chet Baker cabaret piece? Somewhere Kermit the Frog is ripping out the webbing between his toes. Bonus creep points, however, for including Robyn Hitchcock's "I Often Dream of Trains," a moody ballad that wouldn't seem at all out of place emanating from a Roald Dahl book, in which Hitchcock provides the following insight, "When you're young, death is a long way off, like a very distant railway station on the horizon. Maybe death is collecting the tickets on the train."

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