You won’t be able to buy this album for another month yet, but I’ve been enjoying it already for several weeks and can’t keep it to myself any longer. Beanstalk Jack is the musical storytelling you didn’t know you’ve been missing.
Each individual track is in a different musical style so that while the words move the narrative forward, the music tells wordlessly of the mood. It’s an excellent observational skill to impart to your children. They can improve their comprehension of the story as well as their emotional sensitivity when they pay attention to the music as well as the words.
Jack’s unbridled optimism comes through sometimes as a jig, sometimes as exuberant rock. His mother, especially in Look at Us Now is despondent with the crushing weight of poverty. Bestest Bargain, wherein Jack trades his cow for the beans, is a dreamy, hypnotic song that would convince anyone to trade their only material possession and beloved friend for a handful of beans.
The entire album is nearly an hour in length. It is a beautiful retelling of the classic tale. While it begins as you may expect, the ending has a bit of a twist. Take it on a road trip or just play it in the house. Each song can stand on its own, but put together it’s artful storytelling at its best. Musically the album pays hommage to the Beatles, Dolly Parton, Simon and Garfunkel, Woody Guthrie, and Tom Waits, among others. This is not what you would expect when you turn on children’s music. They’re calling it a “folk-rock opera for today’s families.”
Beanstalk Jacks comes to us by the Paper Canoe Company which was co-founded by Tami Stronach and Greg Steinbruner. Maybe you don’t recognize their names. I’m not going to list their impressive music resumes here. You would, however, recognize Tami Stronach’s professional debut as The Childlike Empress in The Never Ending Story.
Beanstalk Jack will release to the general public February 2nd. You can buy a CD or a digital download. You’ll be glad you did. If you live near Brooklyn you can view a live performance of Beanstalk Jack every Sunday in February. See Triskelion Arts for more details.
I received this album free of charge for the purpose of this review.