OWTK Kindie Album Reviews

Ella Jenkins – A Life of Song CD Mini Review


Ella Jenkins, a legend in family, and folk, and family-folk music, delivers this week the aptly titled “A Life of Song”.  Like any other parent who appreciates fine all-ages music and like any other music fan who looks lovingly towards those who have helped pave a once gravel road, I too genuflect in Jenkins’ general direction.  The thing is, I don’t want to listen to the music on “A Life of Song”.  The songs aren’t of poor quality, don’t get me wrong, but this particular boulevard has been paved smooth for some time now.  The public-radio-esque intros many of the tracks feature, however, are captivating.  It’s there, in hearing “The First Lady of the Children’s Folk Song” talk about her past and these songs, that one gets a real sense of the musical significance of Ms. Jenkins and her actual life of song. I recognize that in some circles the above sentiments will be considered heresy but with a gaggle of children’s voices dominating a bevy of too-familiar and oft-spiritual songs (“He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands”: free mp3, “The Farmer in the Dell”) it’s simply not recorded music that works in my household.  Her take on “Amazing Grace” is pretty damn powerful, but her version of “The Cuckoo” is trumped by the perkiness of Caspar Babypants playful interpretation.

As a historical spoken word document, “A Life of Song” is at times mesmerizing.  This is what Jenkins can offer the listener that very few, if anyone else, can.  If you enter into a relationship with this CD as you would with, say a Fresh Air interview – enlightening conversation with snippets of music to fill out the backstory – then “A Life of Song” can be quite pleasing.


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

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