Cat Doorman, the alter-ego of Julianna Bright, is the latest shining star to enter the world of kindie music. From Portland, Oregon, Bright recently released Cat Doorman Songbook. The album contains 14 impressive tracks (12 originals) offering thoughtful lyrics and a gamut of musical styles and accompaniment by performers such as Chris Funk (Decemberists), Seth Lorinczi (Corin Tucker Band), Garth Klippert (Old Light), Nick Reddel (Golden Bears), Annalisa Tornfelt (Black Prairie) and Ralf Youtz (Built to Spill).
While the Cat Doorman Songbook is Bright’s debut into the children’s music arena, the bulk of the album could very well hold its own in the adult indie world, which is not surprising as Bright has experience with indie successes such as The Quails and her current adult band, The Golden Bears.
Bright is also a talented visual artist, which is made evident throughout the album’s “songbook” as her colorful drawings and funky fonts add charm to its pages.
There is so much depth to this album, it’s incredible. To start, Bright has an undeniably beautiful voice which soars and expands with great control. The songs on the album are melodic and smart, containing sophisticated lyrics which were no doubt inspired by Bright’s educational background in English literature, but also by her wonderfully creative mind as an artist. For example, Bright takes a literary approach to the traditional alphabet song in “So Many Words” as she introduces fun words like “Bandicoot,” “Hemlock” and “Katydid.” There are, however, some familiar words mixed in like “Allosaurus,” for the dinosaur loving fans, as well as, “Archipelago,” “Glacier” and “Nocturnal.” Even if these words are not familiar to little ears, they are fun to say and offer a perfect opportunity for learning.
Other familiar songs include a rendition of Syd Barrett’s “Effervescing Elephant” and Bright’s fetching take on “Little Red Wagon,” which was released with an iPad app of the same name (produced in collaboration with Night & Day Studios).
While I appreciate the songs my 4 year old can sing along to, it’s the complexity of the other songs that I enjoy the most, mainly because of the eloquence with which the words are sung and the deeper meaning of the messages they convey. It’s as if some songs on the album are speaking back to a childhood version of Bright while others celebrate the delight she experiences as a parent.
“Two Old Shoes,” a gorgeously arranged song with some wonderful brass accents, is all about being yourself, accepting who you are and finding the beauty in things that are unpolished, despite the expectations of the world. “Lonely Girl” is a message of self-empowerment with a gentle reminder that we are capable of breaking free from the insecurities that keep us from moving towards greater things.
“With Linked Arms,” is a haunting ballad that moves at a saunter while Bright’s voice reinforces devotion and the promise of companionship. “Whistling Song,” reminiscent of Norah Jones in “Come Away With Me,” is a sentimental jaunt that encapsulates the bliss of sharing an afternoon with your little loved one. “Inspiration” is a dreamy reflection of the feelings associated with having your first child while “Let’s Get Dressed Up,” celebrates the fanciful delight in wearing grown-up clothes.
“Turn Around,” my absolute favorite song on the album, features Bright’s golden voice soaring over the following lyrics which reinforces the universal reach of this album. The last verse gives me chills every time I hear it.
The radio sounds a serenade that’s carrying us on.
Surely it is my song
Surely it is yours
Surely it was made just for us all at one and all at once
Surely it is my poem surely it is yours
Let the meter move us, turn us, take us up and ever make us new…
The Cat Doorman Songbook is a lovely gift for the entire family that is best enjoyed while easing into the morning, during lazy afternoons and winding down in the evenings. Julianna Bright delivers each song as though it is a poem and she does it with “all the grace of a flower.”
Cat Doorman Songbook is available for digital download and purchase through the Cat Doorman official site, iTunes and Amazon. Make sure to check out Cat Doorman’s Little Red Wagon app, which features vibrant illustrations by Julianna Bright and is “both a musical songbook and delightful adventure game.” The app is currently only available for the iPad.
You can listen to clips from Cat Doorman Songbook via the SoundCloud widget below, as well as a video for “Inspiration,” which was inspired by the birth of Bright’s daughter. The story & illustrations for the “Inspiration” video were made by Bright based on drawings by her daughter.