In the U2 song “You’re The Best Thing About Me,” there’s a line of lyrics that sing “Oh, you’ve seen enough to know it’s children who teach.” If children are doing the teaching, where are they learning these valuable lessons? Music. One thoroughly enjoyable music collection for kids – but adults too – is the super fun album Let Yourself Shine! From Gloucester, New Jersey, the band is Sara O’Brien & The Community Rocks Kids. The 11-track collection was recorded at Turtle Studios in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
With that Philly-Jersey corridor connection, O’Brien’s words and musicality often show hints of Bruce Springsteen-influenced guitars, stripped down acoustics, rap, punk, folk and a 90s pop flavor.
As expected O’Brien doesn’t waste time – these songs are perfect examples of “don’t bore us, get to the chorus.” They are short in length, but long in sing-a-along joy. O’Brien’s voice is not over the top like a Disney princess, but she could be compared to Natalie Merchant, Rachel McFarlane, Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell. O’Brien has a warmness to her voice that I’m certain kids would be enamored while listening.
Of the 11 tracks on Let Yourself Shine!, nearly all are standout tracks that you want to play over and over. Parents, you’ll be okay and I’m guessing after the 100th time of listening to “Loose Tooth” you might want to pull out your own tooth, but the first 80 times (estimate) you will be singing along to this gem. It actually has a bit of a Keith Richards’ riff going for it.
“Love Makes The World Go ‘Round” showcases O’Brien’s rage much more so than other tracks. You can’t help but smile (and sing along!) during “Vegetarian.” It has a bit of a country vibe and I loved that they sang “I like hot dogs too much.” The title track is classic 90s pop rock and you’ll think back to R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” classic with pride during O’Brien’s classy and soaring harmony-filled track “Together We Can Fly.”
I loved the kids’ involvement and backing vocals and even rapping. “Love, Love, Love” has rapping, and isn’t it the worst stepping in puddles and getting wet shoes like in the song “Rough Day.” Yep, that’s a bad day, for sure.
One deliciously bad (in a good way) song is “Halloween.” Fred Snyder from the B52s would be proud. It’s gaudy and the witchy, cackling laugh is super contagious. It’s missing that 60s retro vibe, but I just knew by its title that I would love its quirkiness. I did.
Overall, Let Yourself Shine is an oh-so fun collection of songs. No matter your age, it’s never too late to be reminded to share, love and sing. Sara O’Brien & The Community Rocks Kids, do teach us all. Try it sometimes – singing makes you happy. Even if it’s singing about a loose tooth, sharing Legos, being a good friend and being nice to everyone or being thankful, singing spreads joy. I think we could all use a bit of that happiness now.