That Baby: A MotherTalk Review

That Baby.jpg

After my three-year-old and autistic seven-year-old watched the music videos on the That Baby DVD, they refused to listen to any car music except the That Baby CD's "Butterflies!" ("Happiness Runs/Circle Game") and "Flowers!" ("Garden Song [Inch by Inch]"). Though after hearing the introduction to the instrumental piano piece "Get Together," three-year-old Mali declared, "It's soooo beautiful!"

She's right. That Baby's music is beautiful, and the accompanying videos are obviously a work of love and considerable care. As a bootstrappy, DIY kinda gal myself, I have to respect the effort that the creators put into this project. I especially appreciate that their videos include kids with disabilities having fun with typical peers.

I just wish I liked That Baby, or thought it lived up to its very sweet motto: "Acoustic rock classics for kids and the grownups who love them."

But I don't. I think it's an example of the kind of kids' music that drives me batty: tunes that parents like, and want their kids to like. (Dan Zanes is a good example of this genre.) My kids refused to listen to any of the other songs on the That Baby CD, or watch the non-butterflies or -flower videos. Even Mali insisted on skipping "Get Together" after that first declaration.

Why? Probably because most of the songs are really poppy, in a Disney Channel afternoon programming kind of way, and simply do not feature the structured phrasing and articulation younger kids latch on to. I wonder if my kids rejected those songs and videos because all the video imagery is obviously for very young children, whereas the music itself is quite complex.

And, again, much of that music is exquisite, with lovely vocals (the man who sings "Pony Boy" sounds like Lyle Lovett, whose voice is the closest thing this world has to a siren's call), extraordinary musicianship (established names like Tony Furtado), and thoughtful arrangements (the cover of The Beatles' "I Will" is a jewel). But it doesn't sound like kids' music. It sounds like soft adult rock, or lost Lilith Fair tracks.

There are obviously many families and parents who think That Baby is wonderful. Perhaps, as I teach my kids to say, That Baby is simply "not to my taste." But I also suspect that if I recommended That Baby to my own friends, or put anything other than "Happiness Runs" or "Garden Song" on my family's annual Kids' Music holiday gift compilations, said friends would kick my ass. And that would probably feel about the same as having to write this less-than-positive review about a project so painstakingly parent-produced.

But, hey, you can always do what I advise my eldest to do: research and form your own opinion. Go to the That Baby website, listen to songs from the CD, and watch a video preview of the DVD.

If you decide to place an order, enter the coupon code "MotherTalk" when purchasing and save 20% on your entire order! From now until May 18th, all orders using the coupon code "MotherTalk" will be entered in a drawing to win a new iPod nano.

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