© 2024
Local NPR for the Cape, Coast & Islands 90.1 91.1 94.3
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Review: Billy Kelly And Molly Ledford, 'Trees'

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Musicians Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly met accidentally. What started as an unusual friendship grew into a musical collaboration. Their debut album together is simply called "Trees." Kids music reviewer Stefan Shepherd has their story.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STANDING BY YOU, SAPLING")

MOLLY LEDFORD: (Singing) I'm standing by you, sapling. This is where you get to grow. I'm standing by you.

STEFAN SHEPHERD, BYLINE: Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly met six years ago. She was the first person outside his home town in Pennsylvania to buy his debut kids album. At first, Billy Kelly thought her interest was a little odd, until he realized that Molly Ledford, too, made music for kids.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STANDING BY YOU, SAPLING")

LEDFORD: (Singing) Nobody planned on you, but here you are changing my landscape. Some say I let this go too far but when I listen to the birds and to my heart they favor you.

SHEPHERD: Ledford wrote this song for Kelly's stalled concept album about trees. Soon afterwards, he asked her to record the whole album with him. Asked why they picked trees as a subject, the duo remembered climbing or being afraid to climb trees in their youth. But most of the album's songs are more humorous and down to earth - sometimes literally - such as on "It's Just A Dumb Ol' Stick."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IT'S JUST A DUMB OL' STICK")

BILLY KELLY: (Singing) Ain't nobody knowing why the branch fell off; now it's a stick.

LEDFORD: (Singing) It's a stick. It's a stick.

KELLY: (Singing) The former branch is a stick.

LEDFORD: (Singing) Just a dumb ol' stick.

KELLY: (Singing) Take as many of them as you please; as a matter of fact, they do grow on trees. It's just a stick.

SHEPHERD: The duo split the song-writing responsibilities in half, singing and playing instruments on each other's songs. Ledford's are dreamier, more emotional.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TO THE WOODS")

LEDFORD: (Singing) When we go to the woods I feel more alive. When we go to the woods it's up to us if we survive.

SHEPHERD: Billy Kelly's songs, on the other hand, are more information driven, funnier. Songs like "The National Tree Of England," memorable as they are, won't help your kids much on their future botany final.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE NATIONAL TREE OF ENGLAND")

KELLY: (Singing) It's easy to see why the national tree of Serbia is the oak. The national tree of Cyprus is the oak. The national tree of Poland is the oak.

SHEPHERD: Like the trees they sing about, this duo's connection six years ago has grown into a sturdy friendship and musical collaboration. You're unlikely to hear a more joyful celebration of the natural world and our relation to it this year.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TWO TREES, OLD FRIENDS")

LEDFORD: (Singing) Two trees that grew up together, two trees that lean on each other like old friends...

CORNISH: Stefan Shepherd reviewed the album "Trees" by Molly Ledford and Billy Kelly. Stefan writes about kids music at zooblobble.com.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TWO TREES, OLD FRIENDS")

LEDFORD: (Singing) Two trees so close they almost look like one. Two trees the squirrels so easily jump from, one to the other. Two trees in love at the top of my yard... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Stefan Shepherd