Best New Children's Music 2012 / OWTK Kindie Album Reviews

Frances England – Mind of My Own CD Review


The Sound: Blissful pop; sometimes powerful, sometimes tranquil, always adorable.

In the Cafeteria, She Sits With: Lunch Money, Bari Koral, Brian Vogan

Best Moments: Indie darlings Mates of State lend their harmonious voices to the fuzzy yet fierce, kinda-agitated punk rock-ish chorus “Some people say that someday we’ll grow apart / But whatta they know? / Yeah whatta they know? / about us” on the album’s standout track “Place in Your Heart”.  It’s as close to a flipping-the-bird moment as there’s ever been on a kid’s disc yet remains utterly charming! (it’s also the best moment of any children’s CD released this year – tied with the “alphabetical order” bit on Justin Roberts’ “Trick or Treat”).  The musical F-you is directed at jaded, pessimistic adults who, when talking to little kids, are all too eager to grumble lines like “wait till your older” or “wait till you have 2 kids” as a way of transferring the guilt of abandoning their childhood passions while simultaneously easing the pain of their own failings and miserable life choices.  “Place in Your Heart” ultimately addresses the question “why can’t my teddy bear/doll/blanket remain as cherished at 15 and 35 as it is at 5-years old?”.  My girls pump their fists along with this one, in unknowing revolt against all the naysayers they’ve yet to experience.

The, dare I say raucous, rocker “Vacation Delights”, with it’s muted chords, handclaps, backing “ooooh / aah” vocals, and through-kiddie-eyes vision of America’s open roads dotted with hotel swimming pools, is just pure awesomeness.   The Bear and Mouse, road trip vets and hotel swimming pool aficionados themselves, were singing and clapping along 1/2 way through the 1st listen of this gem.

Comparing a 4-year old to Henry David Thoreau is a work of pure allegorical genius.  I’m guessing England does this in “Red Balloon” not because a 4-year old may be starting to embrace their new found power with the written word, but instead because it’s at this age when those pesky little buggers start practicing their own brand of civil disobedience on a path towards developing a mind of their own.  Damnit, she’s so good!  Additionally, if “Red Balloon” is any indication, the England household has experience with the 3-year-old-caused “cold, cold shower”.  Been there.  Again, genius…and hilarious.

I could go on…and on and on, because there’s nary a weak verse on “Mind of My Own”, let along a song that stubs it’s toe.

Bonus Thought: Listen to the whole album right now, right here:

Bonus Bonus Thought: Tune in to Sirius XM Radio’s Kids Place Live this weekend to hear Frances England walk fans through “Mind Of My Own” track by track. The broadcast is part of the Substitute Teacher Appreciation Program on Kids Place Live, where well-known kindie rockers take over the satellite radio airwaves.  England’s show will be aired on Friday 11/5 @ 9pm, Saturday 11/6 at 9am and Sunday 11/7 @ Noon (all times Eastern).  More info here.

Okay, Time to Sum it Up with a Nice Little Bow: Listen to the album, starting with the punchy title track opener, and the addition of a rock band umph becomes obvious fairy quickly.  That said, “Mind of My Own” is still an unmistakeably warm Frances England album. Her trademarked quirky sunshine vocal delivery is still here, as is England’s homemade artwork, and precious & intimate songs about teddy bears, bicycles, ladybugs, growing up and, well, Jacques Cousteau.

Start to finish, “Mind of My Own” is my family’s favorite Frances England album.  It’s also one of the finest kindie discs released this year.

*A copy of “Mind of My Own” was provided to OWTK for review. The opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased.  No arm-twisting took place in the review process.
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