Life is an adventure—there are things worth exploring all around us. That is something that children seem to be born knowing, but that we forget as we grow older. With Explorer of the World, Frances England wants to help encourage children and their adults to experience the joy that mindfully exploring your own town and even your own backyard can bring.
To do this she employs a number of musical styles—from pop to electro, acoustic to funk and hip-hop—while keeping it all light and friendly. Her delicate, airy voice is perfect for engaging the attention of children while also being pleasing to adult ears. Her city is San Francisco and the song “City of Hills” is a love song to it. To authentically capture the sounds of the city, England carried around a handheld tape recorder for two years, recording all sorts of sounds, including the bucket drums that open “Street Life” and the beatbox rhythms in “Ballad for a Beatboxer.” She recorded the ambient noises for “City Don’t Sleep” on long nighttime walks through San Francisco’s North Beach. She also used a couple of salvaged drum machines to provide the rhythmic backbone of the album. To put it all together, she recruited GRAMMY award winner Dean Jones (Dog on Fleas) and composer Dave Winer (Justin Robert’s Not Ready For Naptime band).
Of course we all know the joys of lying in the grass and watching sunlight through the leaves as in “See What We Can See,” but what about the unexpected treasures we can find on city sidewalks? England talks about finding bottle caps, notes, and grocery lists in “All the Things I Found,” a different twist on the treasures of the environment around us.
From the wonders of nature to the grittier pleasures of the city, this album encourages children (and adults) to be mindful, alert, and always ready to find the beauty in adventure everywhere around us. And this thoroughly modern, completely charming album had my four-year-old granddaughter engaged and dancing from beginning to end! That is the way to teach valuable lessons without a hint of preaching.