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In Rotation: Elizabeth Mitchell & You Are My Flower's gentle 'Blue Clouds'

November 18, 2012|By Mikael Wood
  • Singer-songwriter Elizabeth Mitchell, right, with her husband, Daniel Littleton, and their daughter, Storey.
Singer-songwriter Elizabeth Mitchell, right, with her husband, Daniel… (Jana Leon / Smithsonian…)

Elizabeth Mitchell & You Are My Flower

"Blue Clouds"

(Smithsonian Folkways)

Elizabeth Mitchell is known to fans of small-batch indie rock as a member of the great New York City band Ida, which last released an album in 2008. Since then, Mitchell has spent more of her time making music for children with her husband (who also plays in Ida) and her young daughter. The singer's latest album merges the halves of that artistic identity: It complements traditional kiddie fare such as "Hop Up, My Ladies" and "Froggie Went a-Courtin'" with versions of tunes by rockers, including Jimi Hendrix and Van Morrison. Be assured that Mitchell excises several minutes' worth of guitar soloing from the Allman Brothers Band's "Blue Sky."

As that judicious edit demonstrates, part of what makes "Blue Clouds" work is that Mitchell and co-producer Warren Defever (of the shape-shifting art-rock outfit His Name Is Alive) restrict the album's sound to a delicate chamber-folk murmur; David Bowie's "Kooks," for instance, seems here about as pint-sized as Mitchell's listeners. The result is that valued record-industry commodity: children's music that adults — or at least parents — can enjoy. More important, though, it serves as a gentle corrective to kid culture's ongoing sensory assault.

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