Dan Zanes: Little Nut Tree

The former Del Fuegos frontman continues to advance the notion that kids music–or "family music," as he prefers–should not by definition drive adults screaming out of the room. His latest tills the usual territory: cover versions of G-rated jukebox gems (the party-down 1966 Etta James/Sugar Pie DeSanto single "In the Basement," sung here with soul-revivalist Sharon Jones), playful originals ("I Don’t Need Sunny Skies," with Andrew Bird), American folk music archivism (the string-band traditional "Saro Jane"), and globetrotting (the Tunisian Sufi blessing "Salaam"). On the title track–a charming remake of the Melodians 1968 rocksteady single with The Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars–and elsewhere, Zanes deserves special crate-digger credit for recreating classic Jamaican production values. He recognizes that kids like to space out to vintage dub grooves just as much as grown ups do.

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