When my daughter was a toddler, I found a slightly battered book in a second-hand store that became part of her early years and remains in my heart today: composer Alec Wilder and editor William Engvick’s “Night Songs and Lullabies” (1965) memorably illustrated by Maurice Sendak. This book of poems and original and traditional children’s songs set to Wilder’s piano music is the source for Shawn Colvin’s new treasure of an album. Among the sweet and tender tracks, orchestrated and sung with achingly lovely simplicity, are some that may be more familiar (“Bobby Shaftoe” and “The Nut Tree”), and others that deserve to be more widely-known, such as Arthur Guiterman’s “The Starlighter,” Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “Minnie and Winnie,” William Blake’s “Cradle Song,” Walter de la Mare’s jaunty “The Huntsmen” (“Three jolly gentlemen in coats of red ?”) and Engvick’s heart-stirring , “The Journey” (“Little shoes by a white bed ?”). Each song resonates as a delicate little world shaped by words and music, and Colvin’s beautifully expressive vocals. (Renditions of other songs from the book can be found on Colvin’s 1998 album, “Holiday Songs and Lullabies.”)
Lynne Heffley ©2018 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.