Three for the Road
The pure essence of Elizabeth Mitchell’s You Are My Sunshine is the effortless and intimate way she sings. The follow-up album to You Are My Flower continues the generous mix of traditional folk, innocent rock and inspired arrangements – from Bessie Jones’ “So Glad I’m Here” to Huddie Ledbetter’s “Goodnight Irene,” this album brims with hope, love and contentment. The inspired retro cover of personal growing-up photos adds to the album’s appeal.

You Are My Sunshine, Elizabeth Mitchell, Last Affair Records, $12.99 CD,

Katherine Dines’ Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta FUNsies 1 is an album of practical and fun songs and activities for parents and children. Dines, a seasoned performer, songwriter, recording artist and teacher, has cut to the early-childhood chase with 15 tunes designed to aid in the development of early motor skills and language.

Instrumental versions of all the songs are also included – perfect for kindergarten karaoke.

“The idea here is to get back to the basics of hands-on sharing with baby,” says Dines. “My hope is that parents will continue singing these songs with their babies long after they turn off the CD player.”

Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta FUNsies 1, Katherine Dines, Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta Music; $15.99 CD, $5 Activity Guide; 888-663-7122,

Bob Lawson hasn’t exactly received kids-classical-music hate mail, but he often finds himself defending his Kids Collection of Greatest Classics series just the same.

“There’s a set of people who think you just shouldn’t mess with classical music,” Lawson says. “I admit, I’ve rearranged and re-orchestrated symphonic works, but it’s all in the interest of bringing the world’s most beautiful melodies into the lives of young families. My series is a friendly and age-appropriate presentation of classical music’s greatest themes, not unlike the abridgement of classic books.”

And thank goodness for that. Lawson’s music is for kids of all ages, not just those babies who’ve been listening to tunes we’re told will magically increase their IQ.

The Kids Collection of Greatest Classics stands apart from the other children’s classical music recordings because Lawson has plucked the melodic gems out of the large orchestral format and arranged them in more intimate “song-length” abridgments. He also uses an engaging variety of folk instruments to complement the traditional instruments of the orchestra.

With famous melodic themes from greats such as Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss and others, the compositions are exquisitely recorded and feature first-class musicianship. This series is a treat for any young family, even if you never thought you were “into classical.”

The Kids Collection of Greatest Classics, Volumes 1-3, Robert Lawson, Greatest Classics; $14.98 CD, $9.98 cassette, three CD gift pack $29.98; 978-369-0766,

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