World Tales II—A Rich and Entertaining Global Tour

iTunes Review by E-Right

World Tales II, featuring Randy Armstrong and Genevieve Aichele with guest storyteller Billy Teare, offers kids and adults a tour of the globe through stories and music from across the globe. Expert musician Armstrong, who can play just about every instrument in the world and then some, has created definitive accompaniment to tales from Mexico, Ireland, Cameroon, Ghana and Japan.

Aichele, whose nuanced and resonant voice tells and sings the stories, fulfills the promise of the CD’s title, interpreting each tale with skilled creativity and vocal variety. The addition of Irish storyteller Teare offers a sublime authenticity to the Irish and Celtic numbers.

The wide range of stories are underpinned by appropriate styles of music that are precisely orchestrated, providing rhythms, melodies and acoustic effects that make this CD a joyful blend of aural elements.

It’s difficult for me to choose a favorite from this hour-long adventure of storytelling and music. I’m partial to tales about ants and this album has a great one entitled La Hormiquita (The Little Ant). Told and sung to a wonderful Latin rhythm and melody, this breezy tale from Mexico chronicles the comical wanderings of a little ant, who wants to find justice but learns that at times it’s best to leave well enough alone. Aichele’s voice is perfect for the wry irony of this number and Armstrong’s dexterous fingers pluck out a light, jaunty melody throughout.

How Fergus Fionnliath Acquired a Dog includes the ethnically authentic and expressive voice of guest artist Teare. The story, which is told along with Aichele, is a tall tale that teaches us how the “past sometimes trips up the future.” Teare’s voice is defined by a delicate lilt and intense sincerity, while Aichele contributes focused strength and definitive dynamics to the folk tale. If you want to know how kissing a dog can change your life make sure you listen to this fine story.

The Japanese narrative The Sparrow is perhaps the most diverse number in terms of dynamics. It runs the gamut of emotion from delicate contemplation to intense terror, from sublime thankfulness to wicked rudeness, from raw greed to hard-earned humility. The beautifully played Japanese koto, precisely orchestrated special effects and finely interpreted story all blend to create a story peopled with interesting characters from nature and the supernatural and a tale with a special twist or two. The transformation of the mean and greedy sister into a kind and loving woman at the end of this story is truly magical.

This CD is a great for family trips, bedtime or the classroom. Along with providing a rich collection of world tales, it offers musical and vocal interpretations that are sometimes comical and sometimes dramatic but always insightful. It is a great way to be entertained while learning about other cultures and garnering some life lessons. This CD is a winner on multiple levels.

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