On one hand, Throw A Penny In The Wishing Well is not the kind of album I’d expect the Bear to warm too. She is 8 1/2 after all and, well, I dunno where I’m going with that. The thing is, Jennifer Gasoi’s new album skews younger than 8. Or so it would seem. No, it definitely does. Right? But, and am I guilty of this from time to time as well, we wise & foolish adults should never underestimate children, ours or those belonging to others. We should, instead, resolve to never assuming they can’t or won’t appreciate, or dare I say love, something that, on the surface, would seem to be below their pay grade, if you’ll kindly indulge my mixed-metaphor. Nonsense, that and this.
Lets all agree to stop rushing children through their childhood, their one chance at it, and allow them more time to be youthful, dreamy, and lets all promise to supply them with many shiny pennies to toss into wishing wells.
Things you’ll notice and appreciate straightaway listening to Jennifer Gasoi’s new album Throw A Penny In The Wishing Well: production that’s crisper than a fresh picked apple, musicianship tighter than your faded high-school jeans, and the soda-fountain voice of Gasoi, one that occasionally, and seamlessly, slips into a very romantic français. On these 18 playful songs, the Canadian songstress merrily exists in Fonzie’s world of happier days, of jukeboxes stocked with 45s (each one with a bouncy tune etched into its black vinyl,) and of doo wops and la la la’s. Maybe the Bear shouldn’t like any of this. But she does, oh my does she ever.
Gasoi celebrates “The Little Things” in life, wonders just “How Does Lemonade Get Pink?”, floats around the room “In A Bubble”, and of course makes a few wishes on a few pennies, all while tackling a variety of musical styles. Now, if you know anything about me, you know that, as a general rule of thumb, I greatly dislike United Nations-style albums from artists compelled to use so many genres that the work ends up sounding like a compilation CD. I can imagine these band’s thinking “oh what the hell, this might be our only chance, lets show ‘em everything we can do even if it ends up sounding like we just threw up after eating at an international buffet!” It is obnoxious and unsettling to this music fan. With all that said, it can be done successfully, see: The Pop Ups’ “Outside Voices” and to a lesser extent Princess Katie & Racer Steve’s “Tiny Cool”. Jennifer Gasoi pulls off a similar feat, as she has made a great kindie album for the whole family that dips a toe in no fewer than 6 musical styles, from piano ballads (the beautiful “Buttercup”) to Latin-Polka-Middle Eastern (“Purple Man”) to Cajun (“The Bayou”) to the aforementioned poodle-skirt rock, with her angelic voice as the thread holding it all together and allowing Throw A Penny In The Wishing Well to sound like a cohesive album.
I use charming and lovely a lot. I cannot help myself when it comes to those two words, I’m like a bumblebee at a picnic, buzzing with glee. So I’ll say them again here because there aren’t two words in the English language better suited to adjectivize (made up word) Jennifer Gasoi and her charming & lovely new album Throw A Penny In The Wishing Well than, well, charming and lovely. And look at that artwork! [swoon]
Sample the CD below:
I played a track from this album on the October episode of the OWTK Kid’s Music Monthly Podcast. Check that out for free here, and discover the current glorious Golden Age of Family Music.
*OWTK received a copy of Throw A Penny In The Wishing Well for review consideration. The opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased, as always.