Possibly inspired by the fact that she co-founded an actual school in Hamburg in 2007, Nena made a return to the children's album format for the first time since 2002. The school she started is based on the alternative Sudbury Valley model as developed in 1967 in Massachusetts, and although it probably takes up more of her time than she first thought, working on music remains her top priority. She thought up this album's concept and a whole set of lyrics all in one go, most of it having to do with elements of nature -- hence the title which translates as "Sky, Sun, Wind and Rain." Similarly to her previous children's album, Madou und das Licht der Fantasie, Nena left the composing of most of the actual music to her husband, Philipp Palm, herself only writing the music to three short folk poems, parts of two other songs, and to the two lyrics that her daughter Larissa Freitag wrote. Recorded in their home studio, it's a family affair, involving Larissa singing a tribute to her "Mama" (in the style of an elegant romantic lullaby) and Philipp Palm debuting as a vocalist on the duet "Baum." Although not a project of Nena's "Neue Schule Hamburg," some of the school kids do also sing choruses on three of the songs. Nena's regular touring bandmembers man the instruments, with new American recruit John Andrews on acoustic guitar (here playing music that, by the way, is actually closer to that of the band he's on loan from, Botanica, as opposed to the rock intensity of Nena's stage sound). The overall effect of the album is much like wandering through a garden in springtime, Nena singing in a soft comforting mode, accompanied by traditional acoustic arrangements throughout. The ambience is gentle, the music comparatively simple but colorful, conjuring up fitting sound images to themes ranging from the down to earth (as in "Steine" [Stones]) to the ethereal (as in "Libellen" [Dragonflies]), with lyrics designed to make children feel comfortable with the elements of nature and life itself. A very welcome addition to this particular branch of Nena's work.
Himmel, Sonne, Wind und Regen Review
by Alan Severa
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