Warning: when you listen to this album make sure you have no plans, because you’ll want to cancel them and dance around your room in your socks! At least that’s how I felt when I first played this album – hooked from the first track and when it ended I couldn’t resist playing the album again. And a couple more times after that. Tumble Bee is an album rich with imagery of rural America; farm animals, prairies, horsies, soldiers and bivouacs that will leave you longing for adventure.
Inspired by the birth of her son, Laura Veirs and her band have released a collection of American folk songs for children. The tracks are filled with catchy hooks and fun lyrics ‘When you wake you will have cake’ and ‘Jumped so high ‘til he hit the sky, couldn’t get back ‘til next July’. She doesn’t dumb her music down for children; one of the things that I love about this record is the sophisticated lyrics and eclectic mix of instruments. Don’t be put off by the label of ‘children’s album’ though; this album carries across to every generation. The title track is a hazy, mellow track about not being able to keep a girl that will have you thinking of summer and love ‘Tumble tumble bee in my arms’. Prairie Lullaby will have you swaying to the music and thinking of the fairytales, dreams and wishes you had when you were a child: ‘Saddle up your pony, the sandman’s here’. The Fox is a sinister tale wrapped in a happy tune that will still have you bopping your head to the lyrics ‘and the little ones chewed on the bones-o’.
One thing that really shines through in this record is the fun that was had making it, the lyrics can be silly ‘Why can’t a mouse eat a street car?’, but not to the point of absurdity; guaranteed as soon as you get the pattern of Why Oh Why you’ll be singing along. Laura’s voice is so soft and melodic with that American country twang that gives body to the lyrics. It’s long enough to be a comprehensive, ear-tuggingly good piece of music but it’s short enough to keep you wanting more. Even though it’s only thirty minutes long, Laura and the band take you on a long pony ride across the prairies of America and through countless campfires, still leaving you energised enough to want to light one in your old back garden and go and buy a banjo.