Dirty Linen - p.61
"Mitchell covers the full spectrum of children's music. She breathes new life into songs by Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger..."
Personnel: Elizabeth Mitchell (vocals, guitar, piano, Wurlitzer piano, Wurlitzer organ, percussion); Daniel Littleton (vocals, guitar, banjo, viola, Wurlitzer piano, harmonium, Hammond b-3 organ, drums, percussion); Dan Littleton (vocals, guitar, banjo, viola, harmonium, Wurlitzer organ, drums, percussion); Storey Littleton (vocals, guitar); Jean Cook (vocals, violin); Kirsten Jacobson (vocals, flute); William "Boogie" Constan, Miggy Littleton (vocals, percussion); Gabi Geujon, Fenner Osmond Friedman, Charlotte "Coco" Constan, Annika Enzien, Athena Miros (vocals, background vocals); Hermina Littleton (vocals); John Sebastian (autoharp, harmonica); Warren Defever (bass guitar).
Audio Mixer: Warren Defever.
Audio Remasterer: Pete Reiniger.
Liner Note Authors: Hugh Musick; Happy Traum; Anthony Seeger.
Recording information: Levon Helm Studios, Woodstock, NY; Mount Tremper, NY; On-Me Sound, Providence, RI.
Photographer: Anna Vaquera Vasquez.
Arranger: Elizabeth Mitchell.
Most commercial children's music seems to be made under the assumption that youngsters are incapable of appreciating subtlety and need to be aurally slapped about the face with melodic and lyrical repetition in order to make sense of what they're hearing. Elizabeth Mitchell is an educator and musician who thankfully knows better; as the lead singer with Ida, she's been lending her lovely voice to folk-leaning indie rock for years, and in recent years she's been displaying the same intelligence and playful joie de vivre on a handful of recordings for children. You Are My Little Bird is Mitchell's third album for kids, recorded with help from Daniel Littleton (her husband and bandmate in Ida) as well as His Name Is Alive's Warren Defever, and it's a sweet, simple gem, as warm and joyous as a clear spring day. Mitchell's notion of what makes a children's song may be a bit different than those of most folks, since You Are My Little Bird includes covers of the Velvet Underground's "What Goes On" and Neil Young's "Little Wing," but there's an engaging simplicity and humanity to this music that should easily charm both kids and adults, and "Little Liza Jane," "Buckeye Jim" and "Grassy Grass Grass" are folk tunes that make perfect singalongs, regardless of the age of the audience. The arrangements on You Are My Little Bird are primarily acoustic and purposefully low-key, and they allow the melodies of these songs to shine through, and Mitchell's singing is elegant, unforced, and a thoroughly natural pleasure to behold. The quieter moments of this album are ideal for evening play or bedtime, and if you're looking for a disc that will soothe all members of the family during a long car ride, this album is just what you've been looking for. Some parents will doubtless find themselves borrowing You Are My Little Bird from their offspring to play for their own pleasure -- it's an album almost magical in its enchanting simplicity, and should be welcome listening even in homes without any little ones about. ~ Mark Deming