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.
Welcome to Kids Rhythm and Rock’s fourth annual Children’s Music Roundup! For those of you new to the blog, each year rather than doing a best of list, instead, I compile a list of my favorite albums.
2021 was an amazing year for children’s music with innumerable new artists making their way into the spotlight while more established acts continued to create incredible music and forged new musical partnerships with those they met along the way. Let’s say hello to 2022 by taking a look back at “the year that was” in children’s music. Don’t see your favorites listed below? Add them in the comments!