Two Sides of the Same Coin

Good artists have an innate ability to make you feel that their performances are directed right at you, and that you have been specifically summoned to a front-row seat. The two artists that I review this month speak to me this way.

Let me first introduce you to Dan Zanes in his new(ish) incarnation as a maker of music for children. I was certainly aware of his previous musical affiliation – and if you are a young parent you may be very familiar with Zanes’ popular ’80s rock band – The Del Fuegos.

On this new CD, Night Time!, Zanes combines multiple influences – from traditional American music to World music – with the talent of a raft of musical friends to create a recording that is impossible to resist.

Along for the musical journey, among others, is Aimee Mann, who joins Zanes in his basement recording studio for a beautiful interpretation of an original tune called "Night Owl." A popular song to re-record these days is "What a Wonderful World" and Lou Reed, Zanes and the beatboxers and rappers of the Rubi’ Theater Company give it a new spin. Zanes’ musicality and direction is the glue that binds this collection. A nod must be given to the creative children’s stand-up book packaging of the CD and the charming artwork by Donald Saaf.

Night Time!, Dan Zanes and Friends, Festival Five Records; $15 CD;, 800-448-6369.

Chic Street Man is as smooth a singer and guitar man as you will ever have the pleasure of listening to. His latest release, Lullablues, featuring 10 original and two traditional numbers, explores the joys of sleep, the sorrows of sleep deprivation and points in between. This is an album for every generation: One has only to listen to Chic’s mother, Jannie Mae, join him on "Rockabye Baby" to understand that "baby" in the lyrics could be any one of us – and to discover his vocal influence.

Great arrangements featuring sax, harmonica, keyboards, bass and guitars support the gentle songs and strong family messages of the lyrics. A fine collection and blues primer.

Lullablues, Chic Street Man, Street Music; $17 CD;, 206-525-2993.

More music reviews.

From United Parenting Publications, February 2003.