various artists,
Country Goes Raffi
(Rounder, 2001)

Rounder gets a group of country artists to sing some of Raffi's songs on Country Goes Raffi. The results are mixed, with most of the songs turning out quite well, while a few don't quite work.

Asleep at the Wheel takes "The Bowling Song" and turns it into a slow country two-step. Then comes Eric Heatherly with a laidback version of "Down by the Bay" -- granted I would like it to go a touch faster, but it is still fun to listen to it again. "Baby Beluga" is played with a Dixieland rag beat courtesy of Billy Gilman, and it does not make the transition well.

Alison Krauss's beautiful voice makes "Blessed Be" an absolute treat to hear; it is also one of the two new Raffi songs on the CD. Raffi sings the other new song, "Blue White Planet," with a small children's chorus joining him. Keith Urban throws in an extra bit to "Apples and Bananas," bringing the audience into the song. Marty Stuart does a decent job on "Naturally" -- the song is just there, not exactly interesting and not all that bad either.

The Wilkinsons step up with "All I Really Need" and do they ever deliver; they make it hard not to join in and sing along. "Rise and Shine" is a powerful ode to the morning delivered by Lee Roy Parnell. From there you go to the pure fun of Rhoda Vincent's "Bananaphone" and the tempo keeps your toes tapping.

"Shake My Sillies Out" is at its best when you have the spoken parts between mother and child, with exception of the one verse (yawning) the song seems a step too slow. The simple rhythm of "Thanks a Lot" by Raul Malo drives the song. There is a nice twang in Elizabeth Cook's voice on "This Little Light of Mine." The CD ends off with "One Light One Sun," which Kathy Mattea casts as a soft lullaby.

Country Goes Raffi is a great tribute to Raffi's music. While there are a few songs that don't quite work, the bulk of this CD more than makes up for that. This is a treat for young and old alike.

- Rambles
written by Paul de Bruijn
published 25 October 2003

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