Dan Zanes and Elizabeth Mitchell have devoted what seems like a lifetime to making music; in particular, kids music. Each artist has been producing albums for over a decade now and whether they are singing their own renditions of classics or creating new ones, their music always brings comfort and joy.
In Turn Turn Turn Zanes and Mitchell deliver a basket of folk goodies. Although they have come together as a duet on singles before (“Green, Green Rocky Road” from Mitchell’s Sunny Day album), this is their first full-length collaboration, and the pairing is as natural as bread and butter!
Turn Turn Turn starts off strong with the song “Sail Away Ladies,” an upbeat jig that will get you moving and is fun to sing-along with.
Although this effort is a collaboration, there are songs that favor each artist’s style. “Coney Island Avenue,” one of my favorites on the album, is a signature Zanes song and one out of the 5 Zanes originals on the album. It’s a hip song that provides a picturesque depiction of what it might be like strolling down Coney Island Avenue “Counting all the barbershops 1-2-3/ And all the little markets A-B-C.” Alternatively, “Honeybee” is a signature Mitchell song, co-written by Mitchell and her sister-in-law Anna Padgett, which prominently features Mitchell’s delicate voice floating over simple, sweet lyrics.
I particularly love the asynchronous harmony between Zanes and Mitchell on “So Glad I’m Here,” which first appeared on Mitchell’s You Are My Sunshine. Zanes’ almost faint, echoing vocals emphasize Mitchell’s more prominent, angelic tone, making the words “so glad I’m here every day” as much of a definitive statement as it is a personal one. The song strays a little from the original with the fresh addition of a plucky banjo throughout.
Both Zanes and Mitchell encompass what it means to make “family style” music. Whether they are writing songs, recording or performing live, you can be sure to find a melange of instruments and a band (pun intended) of friends and family joining in. Turn Turn Turn, for example, was recorded in just 3 days at the home studio of Mitchell and husband, Daniel Littleton as they were surrounded by family, friends and lots of food.
An added bonus to the album are the verses sung by Storey, Mitchell and Littleton’s daughter. Adding Storey on tracks like “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” originally written by Pete Seeger, is touching considering Seeger’s wife, Toshi, added verses specifically for children. Adults and children will no doubt love Storey’s singing as she reminds us that there’s “A time to cry and make a fuss/ A time to leave and catch the bus/ A time for quiet/ A time for talk/ A time to run/ A time to walk.”
Other songs that showcase the effortless talents of Zanes and Mitchell is the joyful, “In the Sun,” which is filled with positive vibes as it reminisces on things to be grateful for. “When You’re Smiling,” is a wonderful song to whisper to your little bundle or sing along to as you snuggle with your big tot.
Turn Turn Turn is a joyful experience reminiscent of a Sunday afternoon backyard jamboree. Highly recommended for all ages. Digital samples of tracks, as well as the full album can be found at Dan Zanes’ online shop, as well as our affiliate Amazon. Below is another video for “Now Let’s Dance,” which pretty much speaks for itself in its intent. So grab a partner and get ready to dance, dance, dance!