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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Amanda Grace

Trains, Cars and a Trip to Mars

Review by Gary Hill

This album is basically a “kid’s” album. The intent is music that will appeal to both adults and children, for a family listening experience. With that in mind, I think it’s fairly successful. Some of the music here seems it might fall flat for kids, but I haven’t played it for any to see. The real problem here is the similar approach (piano and voice) across a lot of the disc. That makes a lot of this seem too similar. There isn’t enough uniqueness for things to stand out. Still, taken song by song (which a lot of people do these days) it shouldn’t be a problem.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Candy Planet

This is bouncy and fun. It’s based mostly on piano and voice, but there is enough space music in the mix to make it work with the title. This is actually quite a pretty song. I think it might work better for adults than kids.

Alphabet Map
A new song for teaching the alphabet, this probably leans more on the kid side of things. It’s a bit jazzy, and a little awkward at times. I don’t know, given the strength of the original alphabet song why a new one is even needed.
I Dreamt About Trains
With some child vocals in the mix, and some cool sound effects, this is a fun one. It’s a song that seems like it would be about equally interesting to kids and adults. Then again, I love trains, so I might be biased.
The Ants Made Me Do It
I really like the melodies on this song. It’s one of my favorites here. It also gets some kid vocals. I’m not overly sure how much kids would like this, though.
Cloudy Day
This is one of my favorites here. The song has a lot of style and class. The violin adds a lot to the mix. There is almost a classical music element to it. It’s quite pretty. Again, I’m not sure how effective this one would be with kids, but adults should love it.
Take Me Outside
Energetic and soaring, there is a lot of jazz here. It’s another that’s adult friendly.
Rainbow Skies
The piano and vocal arrangement here is closer to classical music. This is more along the lines of something adults would like most, I think. That said, the formula is starting to wear a bit thin. I do like the violin driven coda.
Little Girl at Our House
Piano and voice only makes up the basis to this piece. It’s a pretty song. It’s also a bit of needed variety.
I Love You
The arrangement here is essentially the same as that of the last song. It’s definitely too samey. This one and the previous one don’t really feel like they’d appeal to kids all that much, either.
You Are My Sunshine
Although the arrangement doesn’t change much from the last couple pieces, this benefits from the familiarity of the song.
Lullaby
This pretty song (based on piano and violin backing the voice) is good. It’s just too samey.                               
Sleep
This instrumental is keyboard based. It’s pretty and both a nice change, and a great way to end things in style.    
 
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