||Some albums I have reviewed over the years purport to be lullabies are quite un-lullaby in essence. Either the music is too loud or too dramatic or they contain some other failing. Candice Night, however, gets it. Her album, Starlight Starbright, perfectly encapsulates the best elements of the lullaby genre. Soft vocals, flowing melodies that never seek to grab attention but instead serve as a soothing background for the singing, and an overall sensation of peace and contentment. Anyone with little ones would be well advised to pick up this recording and allow your children to drift off to a peaceful night's sleep with Night as their guide to dreamland (provided the CD player's volume is not too loud).
Night is the vocalist for the hugely successful Renaissance-folk music band Blackmore's Night, in which she is teamed with her husband, the gifted guitarist Richie Blackmore. While the music on that band's recordings can be uptempo, rambunctious, as well as haunting and mysterious, here the couple excel at instilling these thirteen tracks with a gentility that will comfort any child's (or adult's) troubled heart, whether it's the kind of thing a child worries about or what we adults obsess about as we lay awake at night, turning the day's events over in our heads.
Besides vocals, Night also plays the woodwinds on the album. With Blackmore handling the guitars, the keyboards and orchestral arrangements are ably handled by Pat Regan, while Claire Smith Bermingham adds some nice touches on violin. As mentioned earlier, the music throughout Starlight Starbright is laced with sweet, gentle beauty. Any sense of rhythm comes from the main melody, not any percussion. Night is in exceptional voice, her warm vocals dexterously weaving through the lyrics in such a way that they become instruments unto themselves.
The album's thirteen tracks are a mixture of classic lullabies, original tunes and other songs which get a "lullaby treatment." One of the more interesting choices in the latter category is the dreamy arrangement given to the classic from Walt Disney's Cinderella, "So This Is Love" (penned by Mack david, Al Hoffman, and Jerry Livingston). Other unexpected delights are a lovely spin on John Denver's "Annie's Song," as well as a softly playful Kenny Loggins' "Return to Pooh Corner." The originals on the album, written by Night, sometimes in collaboration with Blackmore or others, fit in perfectly with the other songs to such a high degree that you may need to check the liner notes to distinguish among them.
I recommend buying the CD in order to get the gorgeous accompanying booklet which contains some of the songs' lyrics as well as "Stories to Dream By" which I imagine are bedtime tales to be read to young ones (three of them are credited to Autumn Blackmore, Night and Blackmore's 6 year old daughter). Also on the CD are two enchanting mp4 video tracks of two songs from the album: "Once in a Garden," and "Lullaby in the Night." The videos are excellent - well-produced, expertly shot, and utterly beguiling. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention how beautiful Ms. Night is in them. Be still my beating heart!
Starlight Starbright is essential to own if you have young kids, as far as I am concerned. However, as I wrote of another great "lullaby" recording, The Candlelight Guitarist's Sleepytime Special (2011), you may want to buy two copies because mom and dad will likely want one of their own for playing during their quiet times, perhaps in front of a fire, and thinking back to when they were young and looked up at the stars in wonder before falling asleep to the sound of the crickets' nightsong.