Prime Cuts: Jehovah Elohim, Here I Am, Lord, What is Your Stone?
Overall Grade: 5/5
You need to be incarnational if you want to make a children's album. Many artists who attempt such a venture often fail because they try to make a kids' record they like without ever asking the million dollar question: "what makes children tick?" Too often children's albums are actually adult efforts with a few concessions to the younger ones. Such albums are deemed to fail because they do not try to engage children. Kathie Lee Gifford knows how to avoid such pitfalls. "The Little Giant" is what a children's CD ought to sound like. Gifford and David Pomeranz really got into the psyche of little children in creating a whole musical of an album. These tracks not only feed into their imaginations, they are pedagogical. You actually learn great truths of God. .
"The Little Giant" is a labor of love for Gifford. The project stems from a life-changing trip Gifford took to Israel with her husband, legendary football player and sports commentator, Frank Gifford, before he passed in 2015. In dedicating this record of David defeating the Giant Goliath to her late husband, it is no coincidence that Frank Gifford played for the New York Giants for 12 years.
However, unlike some of Kathie Lee Gifford's former albums where she would take the lead vocals on all the tracks, "The Little Giant" is more a collaborative effort. Regis Philbin (as Jesse) and Broadway notables Aidan Gemme (as David) and Gregg Edelman (as King Saul/Goliath) among others joined voices with the celebrated television and Broadway personality who assumed the role of Sheeba, an ewe with tons of personality. The 30 minute album is filled with 13 new tunes produced by multi-platinum selling David Pomeranz and co-written by Gifford, inspired by the timeless story.
So, what makes this album work? First, it's focused. Unlike many children's albums where moms (or dads) tend cover a whole swath of songs from lullabies to nursey rhymes to hymns tweaked for their younger audience, here all the songs are focused on developing the story of David's defeat of Goliath. Instead of a cursory exploration of this Biblical tale, Gifford and her team took the time to explore the story from various vantage points from the story's myriad of characters. And to add humor and fun into the record, even the sheep get to comment on the story ("We Are the Sheep").
Second, Gifford knows that fun and truths can co-mingle together. Too often, children's albums can either be far too seriously soporific or they can be downright silly. You won't find either extremes on this disc. The humor on tracks like "Hangin' with the Ladies" and "The Anointing" are so contagious that you can't help but suffer a belly ache. Then there are others like "Jehovah Elohim," "Here I Am Lord," and "What is Your Stone?" where you actually want to worship along. They teach us such great truths about God that they are in fact quite heart-warming too.
With gorgeous instrumentation that remind us of those slick Broadway productions, the sound is purely cinematic. Grandiose in the battle scenes when the Lord via David slayed Goliath, yet movingly sympathetic and graceful when Israel was struggling in doubt. This is a top notched record that understands children and their parents.