Saturday, July 21, 2012

Music We Love: “It’s Love” by Ellen & Matt

If you’re lucky, you already know about Ellen & Matt from their first disc, Best Friends. For everyone else, this is your lucky day. Ellen and Matt Kennedy have created a collection of songs for kids and their families that is fun and meaningful, filled with beautifully produced and orchestrated, tuneful pieces that speak to kids’ dilemmas and joys. And did I mention that Ellen Kennedy sings like an absolute angel? You’ll hear a bit of Patsy Kline and shades of Karen Carpenter in her pitch-perfect vocals. She can twang, she can rock, and she can sell a ballad. She’s a sublime discovery. And husband Matt Kennedy is no slouch himself as a vocalist, on guitar or on banjo.

There’s a clarity of message in all the tunes on It’s Love. The lyrics speak directly to preschoolers and the younger elementary school crowd. There’s humor without sarcasm; snap without snark. And crowd pleasers like the song Capybara that tells the story of a giant rodent and Your Body Is a Zoo (written by their guitar player Pat Goddard) are instant classics. Their sound combines the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Buddy Holly with a smattering of the Ramones and the Pixies (among others). And I love the nostalgic cover art.

The first track, Playground is about just that. The tune rocks and Ellen works a bit of a Patsy Kline’s yodel to great effect. Sleepover is a gentle conversation between mother and child about the anxieties connected with sleeping away from home. Tickle Bug references punk rock. Shadow slows it down, a story told from the point of view of your shadow in the style of the Cowsills shaking hands with the Zombies. Every cut on this disc speaks the language of kids told through the knowing musicality of two people with a deep knowledge of pop music history.

Ellen and Matt are the parents to three little boys, the inspirations for a lot of the songs. Ellen is in early childhood music education and Matt is the director of a preschool. As she told us, they’re in the “kid business” full time. It’s Love is ultimately a collection of love songs, parent to child, told with truth and heart (and great production values).

Maybe Ellen & Matt are just too nice (ironically enough) to succeed in a big way in “show biz.” But in some alternate universe of justice, Ellen & Matt are superstars and rightly so. In the mean time, you can make Ellen & Matt—It’s Love part of your children’s music collection. And you should. Ellen & Matt are the real deal. Your kids deserve to hear music this good. It’s Love, you say? You’re telling me! You can find It’s Love at CD Baby or on iTunes. And you'll find their Facebook fan page by clicking the disc below.


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