Words: Doug Wallen
Banner image: Matthew Saville
A group of youngsters play happily together around a forest and creek in the enchanting video for a children’s song from Fremantle’s Amber Fresh, a.k.a. Rabbit Island. It heralds the reissue of her 2014 album Songs for Kids.
Back in 2013, Amber Fresh recorded an album’s worth of tunes for her niece, then aged two. A mix of original material and traditional lullabies like ‘Twinkle Twinkle’, ‘Three Blind Mice’ and ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ – often lasting a couple minutes or less – Songs for Kids is now seeing reissue on Bedroom Suck, the label that released Rabbit Island’s similarly intimate 2018 album Deep in the Big.
The first taste of the reissue, been newly remastered by Rob Grant (Tame Impala, POND), comes in the form of ‘In a Forest, Far Away’. Using the titular phrase as a recurring setup, Fresh quietly inverts the Rapunzel story, this time with a tower- stranded prince offering up his long hair for a princess to climb. She also retells The Three Little Pigs and Little Miss Muffet in passing over barebones acoustic guitar, ending with a teddy bear picnic. Recorded humbly to tape in a Melbourne kitchen, the song evokes the early work of Joanna Newsom and Beat Happening alike.
Emma Vickery’s video follows suit, conveying the innocence of children at play in what could be any era (the only giveaway is what looks like a vintage camera). Filmed at Mundy Regional Park’s Whistlepipe Gully in Kalamunda, WA, the video was edited in collaboration between Vickery and Fresh. The children featured, meanwhile, busy themselves splashing in the water and scouting for insects.
While Songs for Kids features songs as light-hearted as ‘Little Chicken on Rollerskates’ and ‘There Was a Kid on a BMX’, it’s more varied as well. ‘Some Days are Harder Days’ is about how it’s normal to feel sad (and how cupcakes can help), and ‘All the Colours are Good’ encourages diversity in eating as well as in leisure activities. And the opening ‘When the River Did Flood’ was directly inspired by a conversation Fresh had with a taxi driver who recounted the unexpected boon of floating prawns after floods in his native Bangladesh.
‘In the Forest, Far Away’ is out now. Songs For Kids comes out April 24 on Bedroom Suck.