Be a Pain: An Album for Young (& Old) Leaders
Acclaimed folksinger/songwriter Alastair Moock follows up his thoughtful 2015 family album, “All Kinds of You and Me,” with this terrific, all-inclusive toe-tapper that celebrates leaders past and present—and lets kids know that their leadership is needed, too. In the mode of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, Moock’s focus is social justice. His messages of inclusivity, equality, and activism are delivered with an irresistible folk-blues-and-bluegrass bounce in sophisticated acoustic arrangements performed with a diverse group of accomplished fellow artists. The first track, “What Is a Leader,” featuring folk artist Rani Arbo “and some smart kids,” asks young listeners what being a leader means and who they think a leader can be: “Is a leader a man or a woman?/Are they LGBTQ?/What color would their skin be?/Does a leader look like you?” The galvanizing title song, paying tribute to Rosa Parks, Harvey Milk, Billy Jean King, and the Parkland student activists, is a reminder to everyone that “If you see something that’s wrong… don’t be polite/raise your voice/do what’s right/be pain, be a pain, be a pain.”
Among the wide-ranging tracks, Nobel Prize-winning human-rights activist Malala is honored as a relatable leader for justice in “I Am Malala,” with guitarist/storyteller Reggie Harris and a kids chorus. Composer-singer-activist Melanie DeMore joins Moock in her “One Foot—Lead With Love,” about rejecting hate and moving forward “with love.” And, Moock’s gravel-voiced warmth reaches especially deep in the soulful “Go Shine” (“This world is yours to move and change/to shape with your hands and your heart…../As the sun rises so do you my dear, go shine, go shine, go shine”) and “Kids Can Do Great Things” (by showing “what you notice when it’s all brand-new,” by facing fears and being kind, and by being “brave enough to stand up for what’s right”). The last track, “What We Tell Our Children,” ends the album with aching simplicity: “Be kind, be fair, do right, cooperate, be nice….”
Lynne Heffley ©2020 Parents’ Choice
A freelance writer and editor for the arts and non-profit organizations, Lynne is a former staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, where she established the paper’s first weekly children’s arts and entertainment beat.