You know the difference between "family music" and "music for families"? Well, I do.
We've lived it. Lived both experiences. People who promote "family music" often say "in the spirit of..." or "reminiscent of..." Meanwhile, there's "music for families." And that's what I'm getting around to talking about with the Good Ms. Padgett and her new CD, IF WE MUST WE MUST.
With a background in preschool education, Anna Padgett is more interested in building a two-day conversation through her music, instead of delivering a message, like much of "family music." Her third collection, IF WE MUST WE MUST is titled after one of Mary Poppins' favorite phrases. The song becomes a chore mantra with the simple, repeated refrain throughout.
Padgett (and co-conspirator/producer Daniel Littleton of You Are My Flower) press a very gentle agenda with simple purposes. They can be silly ("Trees Don't Need Sippy Cups"), affectionate ("Mommy's Lips"), or scared ("No Such Thing as Monsters").
Padgett opens the disc with a cover of Jonathan Richman's "Get There Little Insect" and the rest of IF WE MUST WE MUST stays in his self-reflective groove straight through to the closing track, "Bedtime Castle":
I've got sheets and blankets and pillows with tassels.
And they're all piled up on my bedtime castle.
Sweet dreams are floating in the air.
I've got bedtime stories in my head.
I can see stars from the tallest tower.
As my eyes grow heavy it's the sweetest hour.
Padgett is fiercely dedicated to her family as well, evidenced by her daughter Penelope's contributions. In addition to vocals, she and cousin Storey Littleton co-wrote "Dance Party Pizza Party." Partner Miggy Littleton plays a multitude of instruments on the CD and sister-in-(common?)-law Elizabeth Mitchell adds vocals.
The darkness stays far away from Brooklyn on IF WE MUST WE MUST. Sure there's a "Lollilpop Nightmare," but that's the extent of the trauma. Padgett would rather keep her music summery and accessible. The better to teach while not hammering home "family music." Her CD is for families. And that's the difference.
IF WE MUST WE MUST is available from Ms. Padgett's Bandcamp page, CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.
Here is a video of Ms. Padgett performing "Mommy's Lips":