Happily Ever Now
2021 / Raphael Groten
Review by Kathy Parsons
From the charming cover artwork to the thirteen original kid-oriented songs, Happily Ever Now is one of the sweetest albums I've ever heard. Composed and performed by G'Raph (aka Raphael Groten), each song teaches a lesson with words and images kids can relate to as well as offering warm and positive reminders for adults. There is a wide range of musical stylings in the music and a mind-blowing number of musical instruments all performed by Raphael in his Humming Bird Studio. In addition to composing, arranging, and performing the music, Raphael also engineered and produced the album. Children's voices add even more charm to some of the songs, but the first-rate musicianship and catchy melodies will have adults running back for more, too!
Quoting G'Raph on his website: "Happily Ever Now is the culmination of two decades of working as a music teacher with children from infancy to high school. The songs on this album capture the many lessons to be discovered along the way, including health, humility, peace, silliness and love."
Happily Ever Now begins with "Hands In the Water," a lively soul/funk ode to washing hands that includes guitars, keyboard, tenor sax, djembe, and more. "I Can Eat a Rainbow" celebrates the colorful world of fruits and vegetables and features two of G'Raph's homeschooled students as well as his plates, silverware and toaster! The title track is a folk song that encourages living in the moment rather than always looking toward the future and longterm goals. Even Samson the cat got in on this one! "I Love You Baby" was written in 1999 as a lullaby for Raphael's first son. G'Raph updated it and recorded it to sound like an old jazz vocal recording - fun! "Don't Pick Your Nose" was written while Raphael was a traveling music teacher in several pre-schools - an important lesson for pre-schoolers to learn! The catchy rhythms and rock styling are infectious (haha!) as are the giggles at the end. "I'm Not pErfect" is a folksong about imperfection and humility that begins with an "Oopsie" and includes harmonica and horse sounds! Very cute and a wonderful message for everyone of any age! "Baby Blues" is my favorite song on the album. A classic blues song with lyrics laced with double-meanings that are laugh-out-loud funny, here's a sample:
It’s been nearly one hour since I had a drink
I spit up my last one and my diaper stinks
There’s pain in my belly, a hunger inside
If I don’t get some milk, I think I might cry.
The last two tracks, "Quiet Time" and "Owl's Dream," slow things down even more and introduce many of the sound healing instruments in Raphael's collection. "Owl's Dream" has no vocals, but includes nature sounds (all made by G'Raph!) as well as quiet, calming ambient sounds that will soothe kids of all ages who will close their eyes and listen. zzzzzzzzzz
I don't review a lot of children's albums, but I'm so glad this one found its way to me! I really hope it is the first of many! Happily Ever Now is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, and streaming sites such as Spotify. Very highly recommended!
October 1, 2021