Friday, 8 July 2016

Album Review: Pevan & Sarah

Pevan & Sarah are a musical duo from Melbourne, Australia.  Their debut album is an interesting mix of musical genres, including, jazz, blues, pop, rock, and even reggae.  Apart from its musical merits, the album also provides teachers with a number of useful educational themes to incorporate in the classroom.  Lead vocalist Sarah has used her experience as a teacher to create a musical soundtrack that deals with the numerous challenges teachers face every day.  The main themes include friendship, adventure, acceptance, hygiene, cooperation and exercise.  So let’s put on our dancing shoes and explore the content in more detail, beginning with the theme of friendship.

The lyrics to the songFriend,” highlight the importance of inclusivity, the complexities involved in negotiating friendships, and further advice on how to be a good friend, such as using ‘friendly words’.  The music is funky and easy to dance to, with a dynamic guitar, competing for space with some interesting sound effects.  The chorus unfolds like a musical spelling test, with each letter of the word F-R-I-E-N-D chanted in hypnotic rhythm.  The lyrics also really hit the target as we are advised that ‘if we stick together good friends we could be’.

There is also plenty of opportunity for adventure on the CD, as the listener is catapulted to a number of exciting destinations along the way.  Our first stop is a “Space Ride”, where keyboard pads combine with slap bass to propel the listener into orbit in true eighties fashion.  “At the Beach” takes us into blues territory as we are reminded to ‘slip slop slap’ on our way.  The song begins with an extended drum pattern, before a lyrical account of our beach necessities blends with backing vocals somewhat reminiscent of the Supremes.  Our trip to “The Circus” also has its roots steeped in the blues, with some heavy keyboards underpinning a description of ‘all the things I see at the circus’.

Acceptance is another key theme on the CD, and is tackled with considerable expertise on the track “Get What You Get”.  The lyrics emphasise the importance of sharing, with the music exuding a laid-back rumba feel, capturing the mood of the song superbly.  Here we are firmly informed that ‘you get what you get and you don’t get upset’, and this ability to fit such complex ideas into an instantly hummable chorus is very impressive.  “We’re All The Same”, continues the theme of acceptance, with lyrics explaining how we may all look different, but inside we’re all the same.  The song begins with a clever shuffle beat creating a nice country feel, and finishes in true seventies fashion with the bass line doubling the guitar riff.

‘The Tidy Up Song”, with its emphasis on cooperation, explores another key educational theme on the album.  The song has a noticeable jazz influence with the inclusion of double bass providing additional impact.  This song is invaluable if you are a teacher attempting to encourage jaded kids to tidy up.  The vocals provide further encouragement from Pevan & Sarah themselves, who can be heard leaping and yelling in the background urging the children to join. The lyrics demand that we ‘put things back where they belong’ and also advise us to ‘work together and it won’t take long’.  We even have room for a countdown at the end, a teaching technique that is sure to get the kids moving.  “Stop Look And Listen” brings us into classic rock territory, with the inclusion of a surprisingly heavy guitar.  The chorus explores the tipping point for teachers where they are advised on how to stop the class when it gets out of control.  The music reminded me a little of “We Love To Boogie” by T. Rex, now there’s a blast from the past.

“Hands” focuses on the importance of good hygiene; which serves as pretty useful advice to prep students who are liable to get their hands dirty. The song is also interactive and great fun, encouraging the children to use their hands in a variety of fun activities including clapping, pointing and high fives. The music has a noticeable reggae feel, and bobs along with a stabbing keyboard, and a deep bass line which interestingly follows the melody on the chorus. I imagine that if Bob Marley or Peter Tosh wrote a song for kids it would probably sound something like this.

“Keep It Moving” explores the importance of exercise through lyrics, which express the need to keep your body moving.  The staccato drum pattern dominates the song, which unfolds like a kind of military manoeuvre. “The Freeze” continues the theme of movement, with music designed to accompany the lively game of musical statues.  The music is engaging, and the space between the tracks provides the necessary dynamics for this hugely popular musical game. The song also adds an interesting seventies flavor to the proceedings with shades of the Jackson 5 on display.

This CD serves as a musical guidebook on how to motivate, mollify and instruct young children. The lyrics are informative and the music is engaging.  I’m sure the album would appeal to both teachers and parents keen to motivate their children when they find themselves ‘bored with nothing to do’. The production of the album is first rate, with a real clarity of sound, ensuring you can always hear the lyrics.  Furthermore, many of the tracks feature enthusiastic vocal outbursts in the background from both band and kids, giving the album a real party feel. Although the major influence appears to be eighties electronic pop, the album integrates a number of different musical styles, and is produced and performed superbly by Pevan & Sarah.

Pevan & Sarah – something for everyone.