Love Bug, Raffi's first album of children's songs in twelve years, marks a welcome return for the artist. The effortlessly engaging 16-song collection, which will be released on Rounder, embodies all of the qualities that have already established Raffi as a beloved and trusted icon for young listeners.
"I see this album as a celebration of the real world, in response to the digital overreach that now touches every aspect of our lives," Raffi says. "I think that these songs are rich in themes and styles and rhythms, but the main thing is that it's filled with joy. Essentially, this is an album about love. When I hear this album, I hear myself strong and smiling."
Raffi recorded much of Love Bug in his own living room, accompanied by an extended family of musicians whose talent and sensitivity on a wide range of instruments lends added warmth and uplift to the artist's new songs of love ("Love Bug," "Seeing the Heart"), nature ("In the Real World," "Blue White Planet"), play ("Free to Play," "To the Park"), chores ("Mama Loves It"), teamwork ("On Hockey Days"), imagination ("Magic Wand") and the need to slow down and catch one's breath amidst the accelerated pace of modern life ("Cool Down Reggae").
Other album highlights include Raffi's tributes to a pair of recently-departed heroes: folk-music iconoclast and children's-music pioneer Pete Seeger, whose spirit animates the upbeat instrumental "Pete's Banjo," and human-rights icon Nelson Mandela, whose achievements are celebrated on the poignant "Turn This World Around." Elsewhere on Love Bug, Raffi delivers a rollicking reading of the Woody Guthrie classic "This Land Is Your Land," Love Bug's only non-original composition.
"I had a lot of fun putting the album together," Raffi notes, "and I put a lot of thought into assembling and sequencing this group of songs. Once I felt that inner spark telling me that it was time for a new CD, I'm amazed at how smoothly it went."
Although Love Bug is his first children's album since 2002's Let's Play, Raffi has been remarkably active and productive over the past several years. He has devoted much of his time and energy to the his vision of Child Honouring, an original holistic philosophy for creating a humane and sustainable world by addressing the universal needs of children and a unifying ethic for restoring human and natural communities.
In 2013, after learning about the online extortion that led to the suicide of Vancouver teenager Amanda Todd, Raffi was inspired to write his widely acclaimed book
Lightweb/Darkweb: Three Reasons To Reform Social Media Before it Re-Forms Us. The book addresses the myriad concerns posed by the internet in relation to young children's developmental needs.
"For me, to be a children's advocate in this day and age, and not comment on social media, I wouldn't be doing my job properly," Raffi states, adding, "I'm a tech enthusiast myself, and I've kept up with the times, in terms of how I record and the freedom that the online and digital worlds give me. But with all tech events, the challenge is to keep your humanity in the forefront.
"InfoTech is changing childhood and changing parenting, and parents are now raising children in two different worlds, the real world and the virtual world. Many parents don't understand that this tech isn't good for children in their early years. We adults are custodians of a real world that children growing up today may not know or remember. Zero to six is a formative time for children. What's forming is how it feels to be human, and we need to give those kids the chance for real-world textures and rhythms to be imprinted in their growing brains. So I think that the best thing I can do, coming out with a new CD at this time, is to add a fresh voice to that dialogue."