Sam Hinton is hardly a garden-variety folksinger. With his easy, flexible baritone he sounds a bit like Burl Ives, but the relaxed demeanor of his delivery belies the careful research he puts into the songs he sings, and he sings a lot of songs (he is rumored to know well over 5,000 of them), so it's a wonder he has time for anything else. A respected marine biologist and a director of the Scripps Oceanographic Institution, Hinton brings a kind of scientific exactness to the folk songs he performs, and what sounds offhand in his performances is actually carefully considered. Even at that, Hinton still manages to sound incredibly casual and relaxed on this charming set of 20 folk songs intended for children that was originally released in 1961 by Moses Asch's Folkways Records. Unhurried, unruffled, playful, and often elegant, the album is nigh near perfect, easy and calm as a cloudless summer day. Among the highlights from what is a pretty seamless 38-minute song suite is an example of a cumulative song (in which each chorus expands to circle back through all the earlier choruses), "The Green Grass Growing All Around," the nonsense song "A Horse Named Bill" (set to the melody of "Dixie"), a calm take on Dan Emmett's minstrel tune "Old Dan Tucker," a smooth and elegantly sung "Old Blue," the beautiful "The Eagle's Lullaby" (which began life as an Irish marching song done on bagpipes, then became a popular fiddle reel, and finally a bedtime lullaby), and "The Frog Song," which Hinton fills with delightfully accurate sounding frog calls. Hinton never over-sings, and he lets the songs take center stage and shine, wisely understanding that folk songs aren't about the singer, they're about the song.
AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett