|Performers include: Angelique Kidjo, Carlos Santana, Zulya, Beatriz Pichi Malen, Claudia Martinez, Letterstick Band, Fortuna, Sibongile Khumalo, Erick Manana, The Sanshin Cafe Orchestra, Virginia Rosa, Teresa Doyle, Tanja Solnik, Lynn Morrison.
|Putumayo's Dreamland - World Lullabies & Soothing Songs gathers a baker's dozen of diverse but restful songs aimed at -- but not restricted to -- children. The collection takes care to represent as many countries and continents as possible, and likewise presents its liner notes in four different languages (English, Spanish, French, and Dutch) and offers phonetic pronunciations of the artists' names and song titles. However, the eclecticism and egalitarianism of the album feel anything but forced, as calming but beautifully distinct songs such as Ang?lique Kidjo & Carlos Santana's West African-inspired "Na?ma," a lullaby written for and named after Kidjo's daughter, and Eric Manana's ode to his mother and his homeland of Madagascar, "Ny Fitiaavako An'I Mama," flow into each other. At other times the album makes unique cultural and musical contrasts, putting Teresa Doyle's wintry "A Lullabye," a traditional Scottish-Canadian song, next to the considerably warmer and softer "Thula Mama" by Sowetan vocalist Sibongile Khumalo. Not surprisingly, the Brazilian lullabies -- Virginia Rosa's "L Vai Algu?m" and Fortuna's "Durme Durme" (which also reflects her Sephardic heritage) -- are among the most elegant on the collection; the Sanshin Cafe Orchestra's playful lullaby from Okinawa, Japan, "Cradle Song," is possibly the most creative, musically speaking. All of the songs on the album are so lovely and so invested with the artists' heritage that it's somewhat surprising that most of these songs were culled from other albums instead of being recorded for this project. Lynn Morrison's Scottish lullaby "Cradle Spell of Dunvegan" is a song she learned to sing her son to sleep, and tells the story of a man who marries a fairy and has a son with her; the fairy disappears, but returns when she hears the child crying in the night and soothes him. Tanja Solnik's Jewish lullaby "Numi Numi," Beatriz Pichi Malen's Argentinian "Canci¢n Para Dormir a un Ni¤o," and Zulya's Russian "Lullaby" have a similar bittersweet beauty, while Claudia Martinez's "Arriba del Cielo" and the Letterstick Band's aboriginal Australian lullaby "Yi-Rrana" are more on the cute and charming side. Along with offering many different ways to go to sleep, Dreamland - World Lullabies & Soothing Songs is a fascinating, educational collection of music for music fans old and young alike. ~ Heather Phares