Personnel: Greg Brown (vocals, guitar); Pat Donohue (guitar); Gordie Johnson (bass); Robin Anders (percussion); Constie Brown, Zoe Brown, Amara Hark, Karene Hark, Vanessa Bjerke, Marcia Bjerke, Mary Kjos (background vocals).
The cliche about children's albums by "serious" artists such as Greg Brown is that they're also for adults. BATHTUB BLUES is one of those rare occasions when the cliche is true. It's partly because Brown, a family man himself, approaches his task whole-heartedly, and partly because he's always had a knack for tackling potentially sentimental topics without descending into mawkishness. Thus, he's the ideal candidate for this kind of project, and he carries it off with flying colors.
While some of the more strictly whimsical cuts, including "Four Wet Pigs" and the title track, do seem geared strictly towards kids, much of the album bears an all-ages stamp. The gently thumping "Late Night Radio" is a reminiscence from Brown's own childhood, and could have come straight from one of his "adult" albums. "Payday" and "Shake Sugaree" are simply covers of classic blues tunes by Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotten respectively, their amiable tone making them natural additions. "Green Leaf" is another highlight; ostensibly a song about the simple occurrences of nature, it's a masterfully written, haunting ballad that pierces deep into the heart, and is one of Brown's finest compositions.