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The Happy Wanderer

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Album Review

For a folk singer/songwriter one of whose best-known songs is "A Place in the Choir," a list of "all God's critters" and the sounds they make, Bill Staines understandably has been solicited over the years to make a full-fledged children's album, and with The Happy Wanderer, he has finally acquiesced. But, in his liner notes to the collection, he acknowledges a shift in emphasis in the disc's planning stages. "I had originally intended that the album be specifically for kids but as I began to choose the material for the recording, I felt the project become more of an offering for the whole family," he writes. Indeed, the resulting album, despite its subtitle, "Songs for Kids, Cars, and Campfires...," isn't really all that different from a typical Staines collection. True, animals inhabit the subject matter of such selections as the singer's own "This Song Is for the Birds," "Kookaburra," "Little Brown Dog," "The Hound Dog Song," and, inevitably, "A Place in the Choir." And there is a childlike tone to some of the other material, notably "Sweet Potato." But, except for being familiar, such songs as "Home on the Range" and "The Gypsy Rover" are not really for children, and others, such as Staines' "I Can Feel the Sweet Winds Blowing (Bless My Soul)," could fit on any of his albums, having nothing to do with the collection's ostensible theme. On the whole, The Happy Wanderer might be described as Bill Staines lite, and his fans certainly will be happy to put it on while spending time with their families. But it's hard to imagine children finding much here to get excited about.


Born: 06 February 1947 in Medford, MA

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The American landscape has been a major theme for New Hampshire-based singer/songwriter Bill Staines. His songs have captured the beauty of rivers, mountains, and the open space of the American West. Staines' ability to write songs that seem like traditional folk songs has made him a favorite source of new material. His original tunes, including "The Roseville Fair," "River," "Wild, Wild Heart," "Yellowstone Winds," and "A Place in the Choir (All God's Critters)," have been covered by such artists...
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