A couple of weeks ago we had several days of pretty serious storms here in the Midwest. After one of the storms the sun came out so bright, I immediately wondered if there was a rainbow. I popped out my front door and this is what I saw (the photo is unfiltered). I couldn’t get a picture because of the houses, but that afternoon the sky was aglow with a complete rainbow. It was such an awesome sight after such a dark day.
“Rainbow Flow,” the opening track from Jessa Campbell & the Saplings latest album for families reminded me of this beautiful moment. Filled with facts about the science behind what makes a rainbow, Campbell takes what could otherwise feel like a school lesson and turns it into a one-of-a-kind dance groove. The melody of “Rainbow Flow” swirls around you making your body move while Campbell’s stellar vocals weave in lyrics that educate and entertain at the same time. Throw in special guest, GRAMMY-nominated Saulpaul, and you have a song that listeners won’t soon forget. And speaking of forget. If you’re like me, you were taught that the easiest way to remember the colors of the rainbow was with the acronym ROYGBIV. After listening to “Rainbow Flow,” I say forget that! All you have to do is listen to the chorus and you’ll never need ROYGBIV again.
Jessa Campbell & the Saplings second album for families, Forest Flow, is due out June 9. Filled with STEM and ecology-based songs that celebrate the wonders of the forest, this new collection of music features themes that are accessible to children wrapped in sophisticated arrangements that will appeal to adults. While June 9 is still a ways off, here’s a little sample of what to expect with the video premiere of “Rainbow Flow.” Enjoy!
I have been looking forward to Esther Crow’s new album Listen Lead Love ever since she debuted the singles “Homemade Halloween” and “Christmas Socks” late last year. After listening to the album, I have to say, it was well worth the wait. On her second outing as a solo artist, Esther leans into her unique retro-rock style to great affect. The album kicks off with “Start the Discussion” (featuring special guests Strawbitty Yops). This call to action encourages listeners to take the initiative and start talking about the climate crisis. As with many of the songs on the album, Esther crafts lyrics that break down the issue in ways that make it easily accessible to children. In addition to the climate crisis, she takes on the importance of switching to solar power, the need to move away from creating waste and instead recycle, reuse, and repurpose, and in the closing track, the directive to not be afraid to let your voices be heard and “March!”
For most of the songs in this collection, Esther’s power vocals are backed by drums and electric guitars with melodies that often call back to the rock of the 1960s and 1970s. On “The Leader in You,” Esther injects reggae into the groovy sound she creates with Kare Africa Kids by including a special guest appearance from Father Goose. Just past the halfway point in the music there is a gentle interlude in the form of a duet between Esther and Kymberly Stewart. The veteran performers’ voices blend perfectly on “Feelings are a Rollercoaster,” creating a beautiful moment where listeners are reassured that emotions are ok to feel and that real friends stick by each other during the happy and the sad times. By the end of the chorus children will feel as though they are wrapped in a warm hug.
Listen Lead Love isn’t just the name of Esther’s second album. It’s also how she approaches life. Esther shares that philosophy with families as a reminder that we only have one Earth and and it’s important that we love and honor the planet, as well as all those who inhabit it. Listen Lead Love will be released on Earth Day – April 22.