Sara O’Brien & The Community Rocks! Kids dropped a new album today, called Let Yourself Shine. The album comprises of 11 tracks written by O’Brien and more than 30 children and teens from South Jersey communities: Oaklyn, Camden, Colingswood, Audubon, Haddon, Township, Haddonfield, Haddon Heights, and Gloucester City.
The songs on Let Yourself Shine range a gamut of topics, from educational to fun, like eating meat, shiny shoes, loose teeth, kindness, taking turns, interactions with friends, never giving up, Dr. Martin Luther King’s philosophy of nonviolence, and being true to yourself by being who you are.
Empowerment, inspiration, literacy, positive motivation, and self-expression are the objectives of the music. Through original music composed by O’Brien and her youthful collaborators, life’s moments, whether ordinary, extraordinary, precious, or heartbreaking, are utilized to acknowledge, celebrate, and even heal.
For parents, the songs provide insight on communicating effectively with their children, promoting emotional and intellectual connection between parent and child.
Recognizing that the music is the vehicle delivering the message, O’Brien’s music is anything but kid-pop or sickly-sweet bubblegum pop. Instead, it rides on infectious pop rock-flavored melodies with pulsing rhythms, gleaming harmonics, and luminous harmonies. In other words, O’Brien is not your stereotypical adult, who misjudges just how intellectually and aesthetically sophisticated children and teenagers are.
The album’s title track establishes the feel and mood of the music, opening with bright Byrds-like guitars flowing into a potent, buoyant pop-rock tune. A tightly snapping snare and hefty bassline imbue the tune with contagious vibes, as O’Brien’s affluent voice shimmers with sparkling clarity and beaucoup energy. Gleaming background harmonies infuse depth and sonic dimension, perfectly complementing the vibrant mood of the song.
The lyrics to Let Yourself Shine display delightful sparks of verve.
“I saw her walking down the street/ Her head held down dragging her feet / I noticed she had some shiny shoes / With shoes so bright why feel so blue? / Let Yourself Shine! / And dance walking down the street / Hold your head up stepping to the beat / Be confident, be true.”
One of our favorite tunes on the album is “Love, Love, Love,” a song about Martin Luther King, Jr. The lyrics hit home with oomph.
“He dreamed about freedom, peace and love / Everyone to work together, everyone to get along / He walked for miles for equality / To spread justice and that’s why we sing / Love, love, love, Love, love, love / We’re talking about…”
Let Yourself Shine is excellent, full of catchy lyrics traveling on contemporary pop melodies bursting with radiant harmonies.