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CD REVIEW: The Conductors - Navigating the Spectrum
By Chip Withrow - 08/30/2008 - 01:08 PM EDT

Artist: Band: The Conductors
Album: Navigating the Spectrum
Genre: Children's (ages 5-13)
Sounds Like: '70s-style folk/pop/rock
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 9/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
Weakness: Great Freight Train, Twelve, I've Been Working On the Railroad
CD Review: This sunny, charming disc is a fun listen, and it is dedicated to a cause close to my heart. The Conductors play punchy, ‘70s-style folk-rock to bring awareness to Autism Spectrum Disorders and the advocacy group Autism Speaks.

Navigating the Spectrum is family music of the best kind – catchy and breezy songs that send positive messages for kids, and the grown-ups will find themselves bopping along too. “Great Freight Train” chugs along like a good ol’ Steve Miller-style rocker; “Twelve (Kisses For My Baby)” and “Won’t You Be My Friend?” groove like the great Scooby Doo theme song.

“My Backyard” is a fun, loping tune filled with vivid lyrical imagery – it boasts fine harmonies and a couple of nifty musical twists, too. I dig the off-kilter chord changes in “Twelve” as well. This is in no way dumbed-down kids’ music.

The old favorite “I’ve Been Working On the Railroad” is rockabilly/power pop fresh, and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is joyfully remade as a propulsive, hand-clapping number.

“Hush-A-Bye Darling” is a simple and beautiful, fitting conclusion – just acoustic strumming and Joe Hutchinson’s warm, rich, just-a-touch-raspy voice. Hutchinson also wrote or co-wrote all the original songs on the set.

There’s no way to get bored with these nine short and snappy cuts. The Conductors have created a wonderfully rocking family listen - I can think of may uses for it with my six-year-old (car rides and clean-up time, to name a couple), and here I am digging it by myself.

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