Lullabies Open Dreamy Worlds

Any song is a lullaby if it provides a soundscape to signal the mind that it’s time to rest. New parents have no time to track down the combination of melody and rhythm needed to lull their infant to sleep. This is where shower and baby gifts of music can work their magic quickly.

The best lullaby CDs soothe stressed-out parents long after the baby outgrows them.  Lyrics don’t matter in lullabies as much as tone, which opens a world of music and languages to put your family to sleep.

Brilliance, Reissued

The Music for Little People label offers lullaby brilliance by Bobby McFerrin and the late Freyda Epstein in their 2012 rerelease of MFLP’s 1994 Lullaby, A Collection. McFerrin’s haunting, wordless “Common Threads” and Epstein’s Japanese lullaby “Sakura/Owayare” join tranquil sounds from Judy Collins, Loreena McKennett, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and others who make this CD worth finding. The lullaby section at Music for Little People is full of great choices.

Audio: "Common Threads" by Bobby McFerrin

Fine Production

Charlie Hope’s (she’s a she) World of Dreams: Soothing Songs and Lullabies is a lovely collection of original songs whose simple titles like “My Balloon,” “Little One” and “Up in a Tree” are voiced in a hypnotically whispery style that feels like mommy improvising a cribside song. What differentiates this CD is the fine production and instruments backing Hope. 

Video: "Loved" by Charlie Hope from World of Dreams

A Dreamy Series

Another label stop in your lullaby quest should be Putumayo Kids Music. Their Dreamland series of world music lullabies now includes Instrumental Dreamland, with a world of relaxation from the Spanish guitar (Damien Erwin’s take on “What a Wonderful World”), Japanese shamisen (a banjo-like instrument), ukulele (featuring prodigy Jake Shimabukuro) and other instruments. Europe, Asia, Africa and South America are represented on this magnificent collection, including Victor Johnson’s version of the classic “Brahms’ Lullaby.”

If you prefer lyrics with your lullaby, Acoustic Dreamland is a must-have. This folk-centric collection of North American artists includes soft sounds from Lucy Kaplansky and Elizabeth Mitchell in its lineup.

If understanding the lyrics doesn’t matter, seek out any of the previous multilingual Dreamland  CDs (French, Asian, Celtic, African) or Dreamland: World Lullabies and Soothing Songs with a little bit of everything, including Carlos Santana (with Anjelique Kidjo).

Audio: “Pupu Hinuhinu” by Keola Beamer from Instrumental Dreamland

Audio: “Naima” by Anjelique Kidjo from Dreamland: World Lullabies and Soothing Songs

Audio: "Durme Durme” by Fortuna from Dreamland: World Lullabies and Soothing Songs

Lullaby Tips for Parents

• Relaxed parents have sleepy babies. Try songs that worked on babies of  generations past (for example, Bonnie Raitt’s “Baby Mine” or Trout Fishing in America’s “Lullaby”).

Anthology albums let you sample many different artists and songs.

• Keep a favorite lullaby CD in the car for a fussy baby, not for you.

• If you listen to the same CD every night, remember…they’re not babies forever.  Enjoy it now.

Audio: "Baby Mine" by Bonnie Raitt from Stay Awake

Video: "Lullaby," live performance by Trout Fishing in America

Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of  Kids Corner, weekdays 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.

Categories: Music Reviews