Music » CD Reviews

Various Artists

The Bottle Let Me Down: Songs for Bumpy Wagon Rides (Bloodshot)

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This spirited compilation of children's songs, by everyone from Alejandro Escovedo to Freakwater, was an inevitable step for Bloodshot Records. After all, kids' music has long been a province of roots music, and for over a decade, Bloodshot has prospered by puncturing the piety of the roots-music scene. So it makes sense that the label that added some verve to alt-country might seek to do the same to children's music, freeing the form from Barney's death grip.

But the artists here, like a liberating army, refrain from ransacking the genre along the way. The Waco Brothers flaunt their storied political incorrectness, letting the blood flow on "The Fox," but a glowing melody and graceful lyrics elevate the traditional jig's carnage into poetry. And while a few cuts, such as the Asylum Street Spankers' hyperactive version of "My Own Grandpa," take the mission to enliven the songs a bit too far, these exceptions don't upset the disc's balance of cheek and charm. And the accompanying booklet's drawings and paintings are even more winsome: They're rendered by the kids of musicians on the album, and none of them have yet hit "the big one-oh."

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