I grabbed this two-fer because Dave, the guy who runs this whole FAME shebang, spoke so highly of The Nields and, thus, am happy to report I can see why. Nerissa and Katryna Nields are two sisters writing music with kids and organic foods as center concerns…oh, and also the pure folk tradition of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie as a guiding light. With such antecedents and such excellent criteria, you can guess the results.
One disc, Rock All Day, is boisterous, jumping, bouncy like the kids on the playground it was intended for. Nerissa and Katryna and their voices -- and you're going to, if you're lucky, remember an elementary teacher or two (at least I did—do they teach kids singing any more in our dismal modern schools?)—are full of fun, energy, and engaging, infectious in their intent to urge the listener to join in. Some songs are Shel Silverstein-ish with silliness and high imagination, others more serious, and the entire shebang is generously larded with incorporations or entire recitations of the traditional (Old Grey Bonnet, When the Saints Go Marching In) and classical (the march in With Catlike Tread).
The other, Rock All Night, is gentle, hazier, a set of lullabies as preparation for a good night's sleep. The Nields' vocal work stands out even more clearly here, especially in cuts like Sylvie and Harvest Table which pull at the heart as they enchant and gently tread with careful modulations and rondos. As with All Day, this entire CD is frequently a family affair, and so father John Nields, who sounds like he just got off the haywagon with Pete & Woody, and the rest of the familiar Nields join in.
The recording tones vary somewhat, especially in Rock All Day, as the 33 songs were caught over a long period of time, and the engineering appears to be a home job (performed by Dave Chalfont who also plays on many cuts) quite appropriate to the overwhelming folk nature of the entire project, but there's no mistaking the heartfelt intent of the venture to bring happiness, thoughtfulness, and artistry to kids…and adults.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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