Songs for Sleepy Beings
Sleepybeings was named a 2008 NAPPA Honors Award! This album is inspired by childhood piano lessons and old time folksong recordings. Beginning with playful bluegrass renditions of classic American folksongs like Pretty Little Horses, and her own localized version of Red River Valley, the transition is made with Gretchen\'s original lullaby, Family Bed. The collection concludes with a couple of Schumann\'s Scenes from Childhood, an intimate traditional Manx folksong, and then three little Bach minuets. Artist and producer, Gretchen Eichberger was influenced by her mother\'s passion for Romantic era composers, and her father\'s Cold-War era record collection. Learning to play the piano at the age of four inspired her to take up the violin and then finally vocal study. Her only role as Cis, in Britten\'s obscure opera Albert Herring helped her to realize that her innocent but refined instrument might do well as a model for children. Thus, her current career ensues as a choral director and a teacher of music. Vocal influences include Michelle Shocked, Astrud Gilberto, and Barbara Brousal who plays with Dan Zanes. Branching out from her classical foundation, Gretchen has dedicated her musical career to the traditions of American folk music by continuing her independent study of the fiddle, guitar, composition, song writing, and re-inventing long lost songs. Dedicated to her daughter Gwendolyn, portions of the album\'s proceeds will benefit music education programs in northern rural Michigan. Review from Zooglobble. Maybe it\'s been a long and sleepy week, but I\'m very taken by this CD. Songs For Sleepy Beings is the creation of Michigan\'s Gretchen Eichberger-Kudlack, who put together Half Moon, an old-timey string band which here plays a set of quiet-time folk music on the first half of this CD. Traditional lullabyes (\'Pretty Little Horses\') mingle with ever-so-slightly more current lullabyes (\'Goodnight Little Gwen,\' attributed to Woody Guthrie). The musicianship here is first-rate, with the Half Moon Musicians hitting just the right balance of technical expertise and tenderness, saving the album from the mushiness which afflicts many lullaby CDs. The band rightly plays second fiddle (if you\'ll pardon the pun) to Eichberger-Kudlack, who has a clear, bright voice. Initially her voice seems too bright for a quiet-time CD, but the secret genius behind the CD\'s appeal is the tracking, as the music and arrangements grow ever-so-slightly dimmer with each track. By the time the CD hits track 7, \'Baby\'s Bed\'s A Silver Moon,\' 20 minutes in, her vocals are much more appropriate for a sleepy baby. Following that is another 15 minutes of Eichberger-Kudlack playing familiar lullabyes unaccompanied (mostly) on piano (there\'s a couple tracks with vocals). By this time your child (or you) will probably be fast asleep. The album is most appropriate for kids ages birth through 6. You can hear clips at the album\'s CDBaby page, or listen to some complete songs at the Half Moon music page. The packaging (featuring artwork by Jamey Barnard), I should note, is simple but very pretty. I hear few lullaby CDs I can recommend whole-heartedly. Songs for Sleepy Beings is the exception -- it meets that high standard. Besides being a lovely gift for new parents, you might want to consider it for your own family. Definitely recommended. Another REVIEW from Northern Express Weekly... Half Moon Musicians - "Songs for Sleepy Beings" (Half Moon) The biggest question accompanying this release - put together by singer Gretchen Eichberger-Kudlack - is why isn't Eichberger-Kudlack the host of a public television children's TV show yet? Her quietly melodic, kindergarten-friendly vocals coupled with the old-fashioned stylings of piano and stringed instruments (guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass) would seriously be perfect alongside a few fake-fur, jug-band, straw-hat-wearing puppets, lulling the kiddies to sleep. But that actually is the point of this whole set, which is arranged so that the songs get quieter and quieter (and the vocals more and more hushed) as the album progresses. "Hobo's Lullaby" features Eichberger-Kudlack singing of a train's "steel wheels humming" alongside Don Julin's delicate mandolin work; the retooled "Blue Betsie Valley" is one you'll recognize, revamped lyrically for a Northern Michigan audience; and "Raisins and Almonds" is a prettily-haunting Hebrew folk song evocative of simpler times and more exotic places. Immediately following the initial round of more story-based songs are a second series of tracks that are mostly Eichberger-Kudlack playing calming lullabies (Schumann, Bach) on the piano; it's a carefully thought-out package, a smart concept, and an album that's performed with sincerity and homegrown talent. Half Moon: Songs for Sleepy Beings. CD. Approx. 35 min. Sleepy Beings. 2008. $15. PreS-K-The seven numbers performed by Gretchen Eichberger are traditional bluegrass songs that will be unfamiliar to many listeners, including \'Pretty Little Horses,\' a southern plantation lullaby; \'Blue Betsie Valley,\' a Midwest folk song; and \'Raisins and Almonds,\' a Hebrew folk song. Eichberger\'s clear, pure voice beautifully blends with guitar, mandolin, banjo, and other instruments. The second half of the album is comprised of short pieces for solo piano and on occasion voice, such as Schumann\'s \'Of Strange Lands and People,\' Brahms\'s traditional \'Wiegenlied,\' and three Bach minuets. This unique bedtime collection will appeal to those looking for a new take on the lullaby genre. A nice addition for larger collections.-Veronica Schwartz, Des Plaines Public Library, IL Vernonica Schwartz - School Library Journal.