Vivien Cooper & Bro Paul Brown
The Instrumental Alphabet
Author, lyricist, poet, writer and voice actress Vivien Cooper has teamed up with musician/producer Paul Brown of The Waterboys to create a very unique and original children’s album. These are very tricky things and the truly great ones are great because parents can enjoy them too. Waylon Jennings’ Cowboys, Sisters, Rascals, Dirt, Martha Johnson’s Martha’s Treehouse, and Natalie Merchant’s Leave Your Sleep come to mind. And just like those, The Instrumental Alphabet is intelligent and well thought-out, one that parents will also dig.
There is a lot to like about this release. First and foremost, it is tuneful. Strong melodies and fun sound effects are the order of the day. Jazz mingles with rock, which mingles with funk and they all mix with a smattering of blues-based music. Brown brings all these genres together to form a strong backing for Cooper’s playful poems and wonderful recitation. Although short — it clocks in at about 15 minutes — there is a great deal of variety here and it moves at such a pace that no one, especially children, could ever be bored.
Second thing to like about this album is that they don’t talk down to kids. The music and stories are delivered in a very thoughtful and respectful manner. Perhaps this is why it will appeal to adults as well. Cooper and Brown credit children and their parents with enough intelligence to really delve into the various styles of music and, perhaps discover something new. Also, as noted, Brown seems to be having fun with sound throughout, which adds another level. It is not a sound collage but the use of music and effects creates a very upbeat, whimsical backing.
The album kicks off with a little help from chief Waterboy Mike Scott who introduces the whole affair on the opening track, “Instrumental Intro”. From that point on, Brown sets out to finely craft wonderful, short tunes. Thanks to his background in producing and working with such artists as Gloria Gaynor and The Bar Kays, Brown is able to weave soulful jazz throughout the album, ending with the wonderful instrumental “The A-B-C’s Ride Away”. Meanwhile, she writes very witty and engaging poetry throughout, and even uses her wonderful vocal skills in “Wailing, Whinin’ Farewell
The Instrumental Alphabet is fun. It claims to be for kids, but I enjoyed it as well. It is full of exciting and engaging music and Cooper brings a smile to anyone’s face. Her wonderful voice is attention-grabbing and truly entertaining. This pair is a wonderful combination and sound like they truly had a great deal of fun in making this album.
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: VIVIEN COOPER & BRO PAUL BROWN – THE INSTRUMENTAL ALPHABET