Many a Vancouver mom has taken great joy in sharing Raffi with her children. We enjoyed songs like “Baby Beluga” and “Bananaphone” when we were kids, and these songs have now become classics. It has been 12 long years, though, since the beloved children’s artist has released an album of children’s songs. All of that changes today, as Raffi’s new album Love Bug is released on Rounder.
Silly Voices, Catchy Tunes and Songs with a Message
We had the chance to preview the album and its 16 songs. It has everything you would expect of a Raffi album. There were silly voices, catchy tunes, children joining in on the tracks, and songs with a message. The title track, “Love Bug”, talks about how we all have a love bug deep inside. “In the Real World” and “Blue White Planet” celebrate nature. “Free to Play” is all about playing, and “Mama Loves It” tells little ones that their parents love it when they help with chores. If you follow Raffi on Twitter you know he’s a huge hockey fan, so “On Hockey Days”, which is about teamwork, is a natural addition. There’s much more to Love Bug, too – and only one non-original composition in the form of a great rendition of the Woody Guthrie classic “This Land Is Your Land.”
“I see this album as a celebration of the real world, in response to the digital overreach that now touches every aspect of our lives,” Raffi says. “I think that these songs are rich in themes and styles and rhythms, but the main thing is that it’s filled with joy. Essentially, this is an album about love in the real world. When I hear this album, I hear myself strong and smiling.” It has a strong grounding in the real world, too – Raffi recorded much of Love Bug in his own living room, accompanied by an extended family of musicians whose talent and sensitivity on a wide range of instruments lends added warmth and uplift to the artist’s new songs.
Real-World Textures and Rhythms for Growing Brains
Love Bug may be Raffi’s first children’s album in 12 years, but the artist has been remarkably active over the past several years. In 2012 we caught up with Raffi to talk about Child Honouring, the organization he founded that stresses the importance of early childhood, focusing on ideas like sustainability, peace and conscious parenting. In 2013 we reviewed Raffi’s book Lightweb/Darkweb: Three Reasons To Reform Social Media Before it Re-Forms Us. Raffi’s work as a children’s advocate, and his concerns about how the Internet impacts developing children, inspire his activities on social media and influenced his work on Love Bug.
“For me, to be a children’s advocate in this day and age, and not comment on social media, I wouldn’t be doing my job properly,” Raffi states, adding, “I’m a tech enthusiast myself, and I’ve kept up with the times, in terms of how I record and the freedom that the online and digital worlds give me. But with all tech events, the challenge is to keep your humanity in the forefront. We adults are custodians of a real world that children growing up today may not know or remember. Zero to six is a formative time for children. What’s forming is how it feels to be human, and we need to give those kids the chance for real-world textures and rhythms to be imprinted in their growing brains. So I think that the best thing I can do, coming out with a new CD at this time, is to add a fresh voice to that dialogue.”
Love Bug is available today from Amazon and iTunes.
*Photo credit – Billie Woods