In 1974, Tom T. Hall released the children's album "Songs of Fox Hollow" and showed that his songwriting talent extended well beyond music for grown-ups. Nearly 40 years later, those songs are reinvented by a new group of country and Americana artists. Even in the era of Justin Bieber and whatever the disposable Disney product of the day is, they haven't lost their charm.
Co-producers Peter Cooper and Eric Brace brought together an all-star cast of singers and musicians. Along with the likes of Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, guests include Gary Bennett and Elizabeth Cook - and yes, those are a couple of guitar solos from Duane Eddy.
Unlike some tributes, where the songs are done respectfully almost to a fault, the singers here are free to loosen up a little. Miller does a fun take on Sneaky Snake, and Mark & Mike's The Song of the One-Legged Chicken is suitably goofy. Some of the best songs favor sincerity over humor, though. Patty Griffin's version of I Love is gorgeous, and Cook and husband Tim Carroll perform a sweet duet on I Wish I Had a Million Friends. Hall himself contributes a new song, I Made a Friend of a Flower Today, done as a duet with Fayssoux Starling McLean, that closes the album on a pleasant, eco-conscious note.
It will remain to be seen if the kids of 2011 will respond to "Songs of Fox Hollow" the way that those of 1974 did. At the very least, it accomplishes the rare feat of being a children's album that can entertain adults too.