Nashville Chamber Orchestra

Kid Pan Alley

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AllMusic Review by

Kid Pan Alley is a laudable concept that has also yielded a marvelous album of family music. Organized by Nashville musician Paul Reisler in partnership with the Nashville Chamber Orchestra, the album features songs co-written by Nashville songwriters and Nashville school children. These collaborative efforts were then recorded by a number of prominent musicians, including Amy Grant, Delbert McClinton and Raul Malo. The results are a surprisingly wide range of musical styles but a consistently high level of musical quality. Several songs, such as "Whispering in Spanish" (sung by Malo) and "Christmas in Tennessee" (sung by Grant), wouldn't seem out of place on an adult album. Others tunes -- like "Cartoons," "No Fair" and "Sleep All Day" (featuring lead vocals by Kix Brooks, Will Hoge, and Kim Richey, respectively) -- so accurately convey a child's eye view of the world that it's no surprise that they were written with kids' participation. While the sounds of country music play a significant role in this disc, there also are excursions into jazz (the delightful "Stinky Socks"), reggae (the joy-filled "Goin' to the Park"), and funk (the slinky "The Cheetah"). The latter two songs form part of the especially strong quintet of tunes that kick off the disc. Also notable among these first tracks is "Little Drop of Water." Sung by Beth Nielsen Chapman in a voice that swings gleefully from childlike to adult, this wonderful tune is an infectious charmer that also nicely utilizes the chamber orchestra in its arrangement. While this song imparts a gentle lesson in water usage, some other numbers hold more overt messages. "Can't Remember What I Forgot" takes a rather grown-up look at aging, while "Download It All for Free" wraps up its PSA-like point about downloading in a twangy ditty. Not every song, however, comes with a moral. "Freaky Friday" and "Scary Things" offer some simple spooky fun, with the latter tune sounding remarkably like an old Disney movie number. Reisler deserves many kudos for putting this project together and creating an upbeat album that provides entertainment for the entire family.

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