Ellis Paul

Review-Sing Out! Magazine

Summer 2008 Volume 52 #2

ELLIS PAUL The Dragonfly Races Black Wolf 2290
go and follow my kids." Following in those footsteps, as well as those of Pete Seeger and other road-hardened singers of sharp-edged songs of protest, Ellis Paul takes his message to children (inspired by his own daughters Ella, 3, and Sofi, I) with a bouncy and breezy collection that lightly carries weighty universal themes.
The fourteen songs here feature whim-sical lyrics, full of Cole Porter-ish word-play (Ellis is not shy about lines like "Spread the seeds of peace ... to all the polesies ... Make a garden out of, what do you supposey?," or rhyming "fix it" with "lix it" and "kix it") and sing-along cho-ruses. The tone is more gentle and folkie than boisterous children's performers like Raffi or Billy Jonas, but there is no mis-taking Ellis' enthusiasm and joy, and the upbeat tunes will easily capture the atten¬tion of young'uns. The rhythms are var-ied. Ellis grooves a Bobby McFerrin-like reggae on "The Bed Song," a barbershop a capella on "The Little Red Rose," and spoken-word poetry on "The Star Inside the Apple."

There's a worthwhile message in each of the songs. "Wabi-Sabi" reminds kids that things and people get more beauti¬ful as they get older and develop "wabi-sabi souL" "Because It's There" tells simple stories of people who did heroic deeds "because we could, because we should, because we dare." "Abiola" is a parable set in a fairy tale land about a young girl who tames the village mon¬ster by talking with it and finding out that the gentle monster is not monstrous at all ... after which, the king who wanted to kill the monster is "booted out" and the girl is made leader. The real-world alle-gory is not hard to draw.

Highlights of the album are "Bed Song," a reggae tale of a boy who doesn't -want to get out of bed, so he stays in his pajamas and "drives" his bed to school, the pool, and the circus; "Little Red Rose," an a capella ballad of sowing seeds of peace and love and then "living in a garden all cosy"; and "9 Months To Fix The World," in which a new father sets out his to-do list for making the world better for his child to come. The album comes with lavish liner notes, beautifully illustrated with Ellis' colorful cartoon sketches (a book version of the album may be in the works). Friends Vance Gilbert, Flynn, Antje Duvekot and Darryl Purpose make guest appearances. Ellis explains that, when he began this album, his daugh-ters were listening to Barney, Elmo, and Dan Zanes; and that they now are capti-vated again with their dad's music. Your child will be, too. - SS

updated: 11 years ago