Arby DeCamp,
Sleep by Numbers: Lullabies for Children of All Ages
(Moon Cycle, 2005)

Arby DeCamp has been a musician for more than 30 years. This name is a pseudonym for an instrumental jazz guitarist who wants to differentiate this CD from his prior work. He reasoned that a CD of children's lullabies was too much of a departure from the work he is known for.

Whereas he is actually an instrumentalist on his prior releases, on Sleep By Numbers: Lullabies for Children of All Ages, Arby takes a turn on vocals as well.

Without revealing his true identity, I will treat Sleepy By Numbers as the first release by Arby DeCamp. In short, this CD has 10 mellow tracks designed to help children fall to sleep. The music ranges from folksy to jazzy to a touch of the blues, depending on the track. The lyrics are generally very simple and repetitive -- all the better to help one drift off, perhaps.

The title track, "Sleep By Numbers," is typical of what you will hear on the CD. Arby's very monotone vocals are backed up by children singing along. The idea behind this song is to count backwards from 10 to 1 over and over. If you haven't guessed, I'll let you know that the chorus is "Ten ... nine ... eight ... seven ... six ... five ... four ... three ... two ... one ... zero ... sleep by numbers ... sleep by numbers."

Another track, "I'm So Sleepy," has another easy to guess chorus. "I'm so sleepy / I'm so sleepy / I'm so sleepy / I'm so sleepy." Even in the stanzas, Arby sings "I'm so sleepy" once per line. If the soothing music doesn't put you to sleep, the boring simplicity of the lyrics might.

Where this CD shines is with the melodies. I would personally find the CD a lot more accessible without the vocals. I quite enjoy the guitar playing. Since I have not been too enamored with this release otherwise, I played it for some real experts -- twin 3-year-old boys -- at naptime to see what type of response it would get. I'm not sure they even took note of the CD. I can say they never took their nap. They seemed to be a bit preoccupied wrestling and throwing their toys around. (More than once, I heard thuds against the walls and I don't think it was in time to the beat). Maybe the music was a distraction and kept them awake instead of inducing them to sleep.

Sleep By Numbers: Lullabies for Children of All Ages is a short CD, clocking in at just over 36 minutes. The music in pleasant and well played. Youngsters might find the lyrics easy and engaging. Older folks might find them simplistic and repetitive. For adults, this CD needs to come with a warning not to listen to it while driving because it will surely put you to sleep at the wheel. If Arby creates a second release, I would advise him to go back to instrumentals or use guest singers. While his guitar playing is notable, Arby would not make it far on American Idol.

by Wil Owen
24 March 2007

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