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House Party

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Album Review

Former Del Fuegos frontman Dan Zanes is one of the few artists making children's music that appeals to both kids and their parents. House Party is his fourth kids' record and it shows no drop-off in energy or imagination. He and his band create lighthearted, easily rocking tunes with mostly acoustic instruments. Zanes has a great voice for kids' records; loose and light, he sounds more like an older brother than some stuffy old teacher. The tunes are a mix of traditional songs like "Old Joe Clark," "Down in the Valley," and "Hop Up Ladies" and Zanes originals like the fun "House Party Time" and the laid-back country rocker "Sunny Old Sun." A hallmark of Zanes' records is the wide range of guests who show up to join in the fun. Here, Debbie Harry lends some vocals to a stately "Waltzing Matilda," Bob Weir helps out on "Wabash Cannonball," Angélique Kidjo helps romp through "Jamaica Farewell," and Philip Glass plays pump organ on the sweet ballad "A Place for Us." A couple of the songs feature a group of kids known as the Dandelion Chorus adding vocals, and there is plenty of unique instrumentation to keep the recorded from sounding bland. House Party is a rare kids' record that doesn't condescend to kids; maybe that is why parents, and maybe even people without kids, will find it to be a whole lot of fun.

House Party, Dan Zanes and Friends
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