brucekluger.com

    Us Weekly, 2001

    Tunes For Tots
    The hottest headliners in the world of kids' music.

    By Bruce Kluger


    Once upon a time, children’s albums were the domain of buttoned-up recording
    artists, whose musicand appearancewas more Romper Room than rock-and-
    roll. Not any more. Today’s kids’ musicians are a bejeaned and beguiling pack bent
    on injecting a little MTV into their ABCs.

    Take Laurie Berkner, an early childhood educator-
    turned-kids’ pop star and currently the industry darling.
    The story goes, Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes, was so
    smitten with pre-school stylings on Berkner’s recordings,
    that the Material Girl invited her to sing at Lourdes’
    birthday party. Ditto Sting and his son. Now the nose-
    ringed, deliciously hip acoustic guitarist has turned out a
    third album, Victor Vito (Two Tomatoes), whose title cut
    aloneaka “The Spaghetti Song”has already become a
    a kids’ party anthem. Other highlights on the CD include the fetchingly absurd “The
    Goldfish” (in which a school of fishies brush their teeth and ride bikes) and new-
    fangled spins on old favorites “O Susannah” and “Tingalayo.”

    Wendy Gelsanliter, meanwhile, kicks off her new album,
    Ants Wear Underpants (BizzyBum, 888-243-2977), with a
    charmer called “Itty Bitty Kitty in New York City,” all about
    a cat who ascends from cardboard-box critter to “king of
    the street.” Expect similar big things from singer-guitarist
    herself, whose deft musicality and vocal agility (imagine a
    mix of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Natalie Merchant, with
    Dolly Parton’s twang thrown in for good measure) grace a
    collection of tunes that effortlessly slide from rockabilly
    (“Head and Shoulders”) to jazz (“Pajamson”) to wind-down-time ballad (“Eenie
    Meenie Miny Mo”).

    Then there’s Sara Hickman, who somehow manages to
    cram 31 songssome not even a minute longonto her
    newest CD, Toddler (Sleeveless). Formerly a pop artist
    who toured with Dan Fogelberg and appeared on VH-1,
    Hickman serves up a smorgasbord of confections--from
    ditty to faux-rap--perfect for sing-, dance- and laugh-
    along. Especially engaging are a funk cover of “This Little
    Light of Mine,” the rhythmic chant “I Like My Boots” and a
    riotously manic rendition of schoolyard favorite “Weenie
    Man.” Toddler is the follow-up to Hickman’s Newborn (1999), a collection of
    traditional and original numbers designed to help parents sing to their children.





    Serious Pipes
    Tuneful lessons in love from a wickedly wise wordsmith

    By Bruce Kluger


    Elisa Peimer does not, as they say, mince words. In
    "Listen to Me," the hard-driving second cut on her new
    album, Shed this Skin (Hope Tunes), the 28-year-old
    singer-songwriter with the fire-and-ice pipes and no-
    prisoners delivery levels her clueless lover with the kind of
    dressing-down most spurned women only dream about.
    "You sit there with your stupid grin," she spits out against
    the pulsing staccato of her acoustic guitar. "Is that all you
    can do?" This is not to say Peimer doesn't give equal time
    to the softer throes of love. Her stirring ballad, "Close," aches with the pangs of
    sweet longing, while "Hope," an uplifting anthem to optimism ("When nothing is left
    in this world for me…there is hope") has pop hit written all over it. Peimer clearly
    knows her way around a melodybut it's those lyrics that go straight for the heart.