This is not a children's album. It matters not that the cover reads "Laura Veirs Sings Folk Songs for Children" and four tracks are lullabies, and that another song is giddily titled "Jump Down Spin Around." All of those things merely offer the appearance of a children's album, the sort of collection that gets dismissed by most grownups like a Christmas jingle in January. Tumble Bee deserves better.
Veirs offers up 13 thoughtful folk tunes expertly arranged to showcase her sugary vocals and mask any hint of medicine. Kids can bounce along happily or soothe themselves to sleep, but astute older listeners will appreciate some of the album's choices. A cover of Woody Guthrie's "Why Oh Why" wonders why grandpa ain't grandma, among other questions. "The Fox" includes a colorful description of the title character's fowl dinner. A catchy version of the calypso standard "Jamaica Farewell" is about leaving friends behind. UM grad and longtime Veirs collaborator Colin Meloy even makes an appearance with "Soldier's Joy," a very un-kid-like Civil War-era song. (Carson Ellis, another UM grad and Meloy's wife, designed the album cover.)
Tumble Bee may sound like, and be marketed as, a children's album, but adults will be the ones throwing a hissy fit to hear more.