“My son listens to your lullaby cd every night at bed time. I reaped the rewards of it this morning. While making his breakfast he serenaded me with “You are so Beautiful”. I am still smiling 12 hours later. It is a moment that will never be forgotten. Thank you. :)”—Facebook Fan
There is a lot to be said for children’s music that doesn’t make me want to drive into oncoming traffic, but there’s even more to be said for children’s music that I actually like.
Jen and Rob Slocumb, an Americana folk/pop duo, responsible for the critically acclaimed album, “Forget October”, have come out with an album of lullabies – “A Little Heart Like You" – and it reminds me of lying in a breezy, southern field (without the fear of being attacked by hill people).
The CD has many original songs, but also includes classics like, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, “Hush Little Baby” and, “You Are My Sunshine” – a song that never fails to make me cry. I love that damn, song and I would sing it to my kids when they were babies and end up blubbering which kind of defeats the purpose of a lullaby. Needless to say, these guys do it way better.
Even though I’m not a particularly religious person, I thoroughly enjoyed their versions of “Jesus Loves Me” and “Bedtime Prayer”. You can tell these guys are parents, because they cleverly omitted the part about “dying before you wake” so children can drift off to sleep to lovely spiritual lyrics instead of a night time omen.
You need to listen to their music and help me put my finger on who they sound like. I’ve never been good at pinpointing musical likeness outside of saying, “they are awesome and make me want to lie on the couch wrapped in an snuggie”, so any help would be appreciated. Have a listen:
Today Jen Slocumb from Martha’s Trouble tells us about the song “Goodnight Sweet Child” from their brand new lullabies album “A Little Heart Like You”. Here is the story:
Rob and I decided we would record a lullaby CD the beginning of this year. We had some traditional lullabies we knew we were going to rearrange and record, but we really wanted some originals on there. We were thinking about what we wanted to say to our kids, and how we wanted the feel of the songs to be. Basically, something sweet and melodic. The way we used to write quite a few years ago was wait till we were inspired by something, and this time we didn’t have that luxury. We had decided we wanted to release this CD on Mother’s Day and that meant if we were going to publicize it, it would need to be completed two or three months before the release date. We had a very little amount of time to waste!
We also raised the money through Kickstarter and wanted it be a fan funded project, so that meant a thirty-day campaign of raising funds. We set the dates to record and started the campaign. During that time, we set aside two weeks of writing time. This usually meant in the mornings while our kids Wilson (6) and Emery (4) were at school, or in the afternoons while either our babysitter or neighbor would watch them. The first song we wrote for the project was “Goodnight Sweet Child.” Rob had a guitar part half-written and was working on it when I got the idea for the song. Most of the time the lyrics come here and there, but this I started penning out the start to the song and the rest just came. It was a simple lullaby that spoke of quiet and dreaming and security. That began the tone of the rest of the songs we were going to write for the album. Our kids now sing that song all the time and our four-year-old, Emery, made her stage debut last weekend when we did a release show in Birmingham, AL. She got on stage and sang the whole song with us, and after gave a very modest bow. It was very cool. Never having done children’s music before, we weren’t sure how people were going to respond to the songs, but so far it’s been really positive. It’s been amazing to hear feedback from parents on how their children react to the music. They always say that it helps the child to relax, so we feel like it’s mission accomplished!
Hearing is believing. Now that you know the story behind the song, listen for yourself and learn more about the albumright here!
Martha’s Trouble, for the uninitiated ‘til now like me, is a husband and wife folk duo — Rob and Jen Slocumb — who had great critical success with their first album a few years ago, did the touring thing, released more albums with some success and then devoted some years primarily to their two young children. A happy outcome of that kid commitment, besides presumably happier children, is their album of lullabies, to wit: A Little Heart Like You.
The Slocumbs wrote several of the tunes here and interpreted some traditional lullabies as well. The result is pleasing without being saccharine and, hey, we’re talking lullabies here.
Martha’s Trouble (Rob and Jen Slocumb)
If you had a musical cousin somewhere in the hill country, a sweet girl, a thoughtful girl, a sometimes sad girl, her singing would probably sound a lot like Jen’s. Rob’s deeply rooted acoustic guitar playing supports and enhances her voice throughout.
Fiddler Natalyn Weinstein is but one of several skilled players who lend a hand on gentle stringed instruments played gently. The playing throughout seems as soft as a gentle hand, especially to one who spends most of his time hearing electric and brass.
The “standards” you know: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “You Are My Sunshine” (perhaps the best ever), “Hush Little Baby (Mockingbird)” and so on but you may never have heard them done as real music for children, as songs of some integrity unembellished by fake kid voices and tinkly instrumentation. Trust me, a kid would prefer to fall asleep to these versions.
“Goodnight Sweet Child” is an example of the same kind of quality in composition and execution in the songs the Slocumbs wrote themselves. “Little Heart” is a poetic notion with which to characterize a young child or babe. “Precious Love” typifies the whole album, a love song to their babies.
That’s what raises the album above the pretty or simply cute. It is an expression of parental love and a good one.
A secular Yankee like me inhaled a bit deeply at the inclusion of “Jesus Loves Me” and “Bedtime Prayer.” Is that bravery on the part of the Slocumbs in an age when so many run away from any representation of faith? Or is it simply an unselfconscious shot at hope for higher love for their kids in an all too often cold cruel world?
At least in their version of “Bedtime Prayer” they left out the verse I knew and recited nightly for many childhood years with the terrifying line about dying “before I wake.” Who, as a child, completely comprehended that phrase about God taking your soul to keep? Who does now?
I can’t close without noting that I like very much that the album credits include a thank you to businesses in Auburn/Opelika, Alabama that provided “support” in the making of the CD. The list includes an insurance agency, a chicken finger restaurant, a dentist and a salon. Local sponsors. Cool, huh?
If you have a baby or a young child in your family and maybe you can’t sing a note or plunk a chord or even if you can, get this for an early musical experience. Fortunately, there’s a baby due in our family in August and I now already have a great gift for him. And his parents.
“The “standards” you know: “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “You Are My Sunshine” (perhaps the best ever), “Hush Little Baby (Mockingbird)” and so on but you may never have heard them done as real music for children, as songs of some integrity unembellished by fake kid voices and tinkly instrumentation. Trust me, a kid would prefer to fall asleep to these versions.
That’s what raises the album above the pretty or simply cute. It is an expression of parental love and a good one.”—The International Review of Music
When I was in college, I spent my summers working as a teacher’s assistant in a child care center. I have many wonderful memories from those days — watching a baby take her first steps, hearing another say his first word — but there’s one thing I don’t miss: nap time.
Every day after lunch, the children were put on their cots to rest or nap. The lights were turned off, the shades were drawn, and music was turned on to block out noise from other classrooms. Our selection of music that calmed the children (without putting us to sleep) was so small that we often listened to the same CD, on repeat, for weeks. (Turns out there’s a limit to how many times you can hear the same princess love song before you start going crazy.)
My experience with bad children’s music must be why I instantly fell in love with Martha’s Trouble‘s new album of lullabies, “A Little Heart Like You.” A mix of traditional and original songs, the album is the 11th self-released record from the husband-and-wife duo. It’s the perfect lullaby album — soothing for Baby, not boring for Mom and Dad. If it had existed a few years ago, I wouldn’t have minded listening to it on repeat during nap time.
“It’s the perfect lullaby album — soothing for Baby, not boring for Mom and Dad. If it had existed a few years ago, I wouldn’t have minded listening to it on repeat during nap time.”—Parents Goody Blog
We would like to thank Laybabylay.com for featuring A Little Heart Like You on their blog!
Jen Slocumb of the talented acoustic duo Martha’s Trouble recently emailed me about doing a giveaway of their sweet lullaby cd just in time for mother’s day. She sent me the songs, and they are precious! My favorite is “you are my sunshine” which she combines with “let the sun shine in.” I sing that one to Vivi frequently when trying to get her to sleep, but the second verse of the original always made me so sad. This version has a much happier feel! The songs are sweet (they are definitely a little southern and country) and so perfect to play or learn to sing at bedtime. This album was also a kickstarter project, which I love to support! Leave a comment if you’d like to enter to win – giveaway will be closed Friday night in order to get the cd to the winner by mother’s day!
On today’s Community Focus just in time for Mother’s Day the folk band Martha’s Trouble joins Kyle Gassiott for a performance of songs from their new lullaby album “A Little Heart Like You.” Feel free to sing along!
Goodnight Sweet Child, the first track on A Little Heart Like You, was the first song we wrote for the lullaby project. It was around the 2nd week of January and we had spent many, many hours planning what this album would look like. Rob was messing around with the chord progression when a melody hit Jen and the song really just laid itself out from there.
The challenge was for Jen writing the lyrics. It was one of those moments when you are feeling really inspired but you can’t focus because the kids want all your attention. Of course they don’t understand and so to make sure we didn’t loose it, Jen said to Rob, “take the kids out for a few hours while I write these words”. And so he did. And when Rob & the kids returned a few hours later, the lyrics were done and so was our first Lullaby song, yeah!!
How the husband-and-wife pop/folk duo turned a family tradition into its new album.
From iPads to iPods, video games and all things electronic, it’s not just adults who are so often receiving such a steady stream of stimuli these days. Kids are, too.
Folk duo Martha’s Trouble decided to go unplugged in hopes that children might, as well. At least at bedtime.
The Alabama-based husband-and-wife tandem of Jen and Rob Slocumb today (May 8) released its 11th album, and first entirely geared toward children and parents specifically, “A Little Heart Like You.” The set, timed to coincide with Mother’s Day this Sunday (13), mixes centuries-old lullabies with new compositions penned by the pair.
Ahead of the set’s release, Jen spoke with Chart Beat by e-mail to offer insight into a style of music that Martha’s Trouble feels is well-worth reawakening interest in: lullabies.
You’ve called lullabies a “lost art form.” What made you record an entire album around the concept of such peaceful, relaxing music?
Over the last few years while touring the country, we’ve had a lot of parents ask us, “When are you going to make a children’s CD?” We also had parents say to us along the way that their child knows my voice and falls asleep to our CDs. That was really the spark that fueled the project. We thought it would be perfect to record an album for children that helps them relax and fall asleep, and at the same time, be something mom or dad would enjoy listening to, as well.
This world is full of things to stimulate and entertain children and we wanted to do the opposite and have them have some quiet time … time to dream and imagine.
As I talked to more parents, I found out that they didn’t know what to sing to their kids at bedtime. That’s where I feel the “lost art form” comes in. The people that I’ve run into didn’t know a lot of lullabies, and I felt like we needed to be reminded of them once again.
Lullabies are really just love songs. We wanted to have a collection of songs that would make a child feel loved and secure.
What have responses been from parents - or children - when you’ve played these songs live? (I suppose this would be the one time where if any audience members fall asleep during a show, it would actually be considered a compliment …)
We really haven’t played these songs live a whole lot except for recently. This has really been something that we’ve done for our own kids and we’ve seen the positive reaction from them. The songs that we recorded are songs that we’ve sung to our kids as babies, and still sing for them now. They are four and six, and when testing out the CD we put it in our kids’ rooms at night, and they would fall asleep soon after. It’s funny, but I guess it’s been tested on our own, so we knew it would work for other kids, as well.
In no way are we saying, though, “Just put our album on and your child will fall asleep instantly!” We joked about doing a money-back guarantee that your child will fall asleep to this. That really isn’t what we’re saying, but we know it will help them relax and hopefully that will turn into sleep.
We formed a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money to record the album (more than $10,000) and just from the people that have received it already, the response has been overwhelming. The reaction is exactly what we hoped for. It already has made it worth doing, just hearing some of the stories that parents have told us. Here’s an actual post from a mom (who contributed to Kickstarter and received an early copy of the album) on our Facebook page that truly captures the heart of this project:
"I had the absolute pleasure of being introduced to your ‘A Little Heart Like You’ album the other day by a friend. I picked my three-year-old son up from daycare, all riled up as usual, and put the CD on in the car. There was absolute silence all the way home (a first!) When we arrived home, he cried and cried not (wanting) to get out of the car. Once I managed to get us in the house, I played the CD all evening, and he sat in the family room quietly playing with toys and listened.
"Thank you for the wonderful gift of your beautiful music, and also for a very relaxing evening, which I don’t get very often! I can’t wait to purchase this CD for many of my friends who have kids … and some who don’t!"
The original songs on the album, like the covers, are what Martha’s Trouble does best - melodic folk/pop sung in your sweet, soothing voice (so perfect for lullabies). Was it a different process to write songs geared toward children?
Yes, it was a little different. We thought about so many aspects of each song. The lyrics we wanted to be simple, yet thoughtful. And, since we were going to be speaking to impressionable little hearts and minds, we wanted to make sure that it was positive and gave them a sense of security and love.
The melodies we wanted to have an easiness about them, and repetitive patterns. We researched lullabies and wanted to make sure it fit the structure of what made a good lullaby. “Goodnight Sweet Child” was the first song we wrote for the album, even before we arranged some of the traditional lullabies on the project. The song really set the feel for the rest of the album.
How did you decide on the standards that are on the album, such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Brahm’s Lullaby”?
We had a lot of traditional lullabies on our list and we just went through each one to see how we would do it. There were also certain lullabies that we sang to our kids as babies, and so we wanted to include those, for sure. We ended up using “Brahm’s Lullaby” as part of a mash-up with “You Are So Beautiful” and titled it “Slocumb’s Lullaby.” Rob’s favorite song he would sing to the kids was “You Are So Beautiful” and I would sing “Brahm’s Lullaby” a lot to them, so we thought it would be cool to put those two songs together as a dedication to our kids.
"A Little Heart Like You" must be such a personal work, as you’ve said that you’ve sung these songs to your own two children. What’s it like sharing these family lullabies with others?
Yes, it is so personal. But, we feel like all our albums have been that way. I guess this is just a different aspect of our lives. I think Rob and I both love to be very transparent with people. We love sharing not only the beautiful things in our lives but our challenges, too. I think, with this CD, it’s nice to be able to share our love for our kids.
You took quite a break between your previous two albums, 2004’s “Forget October” and last year’s “Anchor Tattoo.” Now that you’re back so relatively quickly with this new album, what can fans expect next from Martha’s Trouble?
We have so many ideas and projects in the fire, but what will surface we aren’t quite sure of yet. It could be a live album, or a third Christmas album, and we are always writing for the next full-length, as well.
For now, we’re ready to get back on the road. We have several appearances booked throughout Alabama and the southeast at local libraries for what we are calling “The Library Tour.” We are really looking forward to playing songs off “A Little Heart Like You” for kids and their moms and dads .
After 5 months and with support of our friends, fans, and local businesses, we are happy to announce that today is the OFFICIAL RELEASE DAY for A Little Heart Like You! Woohoo, cheers to that!
This has been a very rewarding project to work on and one that we are very proud of. It has been very fulfilling reading emails, txt msg, and facebook post from moms & dads who have shared stories or videos about how their kids are reacting to the lullabies. Thank you for sharing them!
This week AOL Music is streaming the entire album, enjoy it here!
A Little Heart Like You is now available online everywhere including:
I had the absolute pleasure of being introduced to your “A Little Heart Like You” album the other day by a friend. I picked my 3 yr old son up from daycare, all riled up as usual, and put the cd on in the car. There was absolute silence all the way home (an absolute first!), and when we arrived home, he cried and cried not to get out of the car. Once I managed to get us in the house, I played the cd all evening, and he sat in the family room quietly playing with toys and listened. Thank you for the wonderful gift of your beautiful music, and also for a very relaxing evening, which I don’t get very often! I can’t wait to purchase this cd for many of my friends who have kids, and some who don’t!
“Funded and promoted entirely through a Kickstarter.com campaign, the indie folk duo (comprised of Rob and Jen Slocumb) will self-release their lullabies-themed album “A Little Heart Like You” on May 8th. One of the more unique music projects that will be seen in 2012, the 10-track collection features both original and cover material. Martha’s Trouble continues to make the indie scene proud!”—The Rock Report.com
Martha's Trouble to release lullabies album on May 8th
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 13, 2012
MARTHA’S TROUBLE TO RELEASE ALBUM OF LULLABIES ON MAY 8, 2012 (Just In Time For Mother’s Day!)
Album Recording And Promotion Fully Funded By Kickstarter Campaign
“Dreamland has come and it is peaceful, it’s where imaginations fly. These safe and loving arms that keep you, will always be by your side.” – “Goodnight Sweet Child” by Martha’s Trouble
Indie folk duo Martha’s Trouble (Rob and Jen Slocumb) has completed its album of lullabies for children. Set for release on May 8, 2012 (just in time for Mother’s Day!), the album is entitled “A Little Heart Like You.” Featuring 10 songs (see full track listing below), the album includes four original songs, four traditional songs, one “mash-up” (of “You Are So Beautiful” and Brahm’s Lullaby,” dubbed “Slocumb’s Lullaby”), and one song that includes three bedtime prayers put to music. Also to be featured in the package alongside the lyrics will be custom illustrations from Vickey Wheeler (an artist based in Birmingham, AL) to create a piece that melds music and art together that is visually enjoyable for kids (and parents too). Produced by Chris Rosser (who also played on the album) and Martha’s Trouble, the album was recorded in both Asheville, NC and Auburn, AL. The duo created a very organic, acoustic record, utilizing soothing, calming instruments and repetitive beats (with only hand percussion such as djembe, cajon, kanjira, and frame drum) for a sound that is both feel-good and relaxing.
“There are a lot of great lullabies out there that have been around for years that people just don’t know about anymore,” says Jen Slocumb, half of the husband-and-wife group. “It’s kind of like a lost art form to me. It’s something that’s been overlooked, and it’s been around for centuries — parents singing to their kids. We wanted to bring back lullabies and create something beautiful and relaxing to listen to. After we decided to do this CD, I’ve had a lot parents say to me, ‘I’m so glad you are doing this because when I put my kids to sleep, I don’t know what to sing to them.’”
The project has been funded via a Kickstarter campaign which was held in early 2012 and raised over $10,000 to cover the cost of recording and promoting the album. Many of those offering financial support to the Auburn, AL-based duo were area businesses. The local Arts Association has also been extremely supportive of Martha’s Trouble and this project in particular.
Says Jen of the album: “Since we’ve been touring the country for years, I’ve had mothers come up to me all the time and say, ‘My child knows your voice,’ ‘We play your music for my children and it calms them down.’ We’ve been asked time and time again, ‘When are you going to do a children’s CD?’ Well, this is it. These are the songs that we sing to our kids and have since they were babies. The Martha’s Trouble lullaby album is a collection of music that works not only for babies, but for older children as well. In this busy world that our kids are growing up in, we all need a little peace and we hope that this music will bring a little of that to children at bedtime.”
The duo plans to embark on a summer tour in support of the new album (tour dates will be announced later this spring). Martha’s Trouble most recently completed the “At Your House” concert tour in the fall of 2011, which saw them performing at house concerts ranging across the East Coast and Southeast. The “At Your House” tour was in support of their most recent release, “Anchor Tattoo,” which was released in February 2011. “Anchor Tattoo” was the band’s tenth self-released record and the follow up to “Forget October,” which came out five years prior. Said Billboard of the record: “With its 10th album, ‘Anchor Tattoo,’ the Alabama-based husband-and-wife duo Martha’s Trouble continues to intensify the mystery as to why it remains a hidden gem.”
About this time last week we were about 9 hours into day 2 of what would be a 14 hour mix session. After a few rounds of revisions we are happy to say that as we write this post the final mixes are playing in the background and we could not be more pleased!
Last Friday we started to make our way to Asheville, NC for the weekend. After a stop in Atlanta, and then short recording session with the dobro player (Will Staughan) via Skype in the car (how cool is that!) we stopped in Greenville, SC for the night. Greenville is one of our favorite small cities in the south, so of course we had to go out for dinner on Main St. in Greenville. We will be back soon!
The next morning we hit the road early to get to Asheville for our 10am mix session. The next 48hrs would consist of listening, listening, coffee run, and more listening. Working with our producer and friend, Chris Rosser who is also an extraordinary multi-instrumentalist (www.freeplanetradio.com) is always so much fun and that makes the long days so much easier to endure.
We can’t wait to share the lullabies with you! May 8 will be here before we know it.