My life is particularly complicated right now, but I didn’t want to let the release date of Dan Zanes’s new record, Little Nut Tree, go by without at least a quick mention.
When asked about what makes for great family music, my answer is often centered on genuineness — the sense, as I said last week, that the artists “are doing the only thing that they could possibly be doing” in performing music for families. That has always been the fundamental appeal of Zanes’s music. It’s not gimmicky or particularly complex (though there’s more going on musically than might meet the ear), but it is simply real. The guests don’t feel like they were chosen strategically, but instead because they were right for the song (or maybe the songs are picked as being right for the artists). The production isn’t flashy, but instead gets out of the way of the songs and the musicians. When he’s had missteps (76 Trombones, say) it’s not because the CDs are bad — they just don’t feel like they were organic. But those missteps are rare; the vast bulk of his family discography simply feels right. And real. And sincere.
Little Nut Tree continues that tradition of genuineness. It’s just plain terrific.Read More