Best New Children's Music 2012 / OWTK Kindie Album Reviews

Justin Roberts – Jungle Gym CD Review


Yes, I already reviewed “Jungle Gym”, Roberts’ 7th kid’s album, in the pages of Time Out New York Kids and normally that would preclude me from reviewing it here on OWTK but I want to add a bit more length and emotion to what is, easily, one of the best kid’s CDs of 2010.

From the artwork to the songs themselves, “Jungle Gym” (due 6/8/10) is a tad darker than any of Roberts’ previous all-ages CDs. That’s not to say this is a kindie version of The Afghan Whigs “Gentlemen”.  Fear not, there is plenty of pop and fun to be had in this playground, but the moodiness is there too and it serves this batch of songs well. The mood may be in the form of an entire song (“Never Getting Lost”) or come during moments of melancholy or well-timed restraint sprinkled in throughout the set. A perfect example of the later is the refrain of “Fire Drill”.  The verse “…but when we open the door so big and wide” is building to a crescendo, leading to what you believe will be an exuberant payoff of children busting out into the sunshine, but what comes is a hushed “I can’t believe the thrill / I’m on a fire drill”.  The tone may come as a surprise, but the pairing of his delivery of the lyric and the orderly, single-file nature of the familiar school exercise is nothing short of exquisite.

The genius of Justin Roberts as a sippy-cup songwriter is in the details.

One of the many shining details on “Jungle Gym” comes in the middle of “Trick or Treat”, a song that will take it’s rightful place in the pantheon of Roberts’ all-time classics, alongside “Willy Was a Whale” and “Meltdown”. There are so many remarkable moments contained inside this 220-second gem but here are two that make me tingle: “I’m just a ghost in an old bed sheet / when the door opens I yell trick or trick or trick or trick or” – HE DOESN’T TAKE THE EASY RHYME! It’s so brilliant because you’ll hear ‘treat’ in your head without Justin ever saying it.  Additionally, the best executed lyric of any Roberts song ever is here: “When I get home I pour it all on the table / rearrange it by the color or label / my brother stands on a chair ’cause he’s shorter / put every piece in alphabetical order” – I can almost see the fist pumps from the crowd as 400 people, big and small, chant those final 6 words in unison.

I could easily go on to point out niceties in each and every song on “Jungle Gym”, but instead I’ll just leave it like this: “Jungle Gym” is a brilliant work that you and your kids will enjoy together, for a long time.  It’s well-worth your hard earned cash.  Pre-order it now.

*A copy of Justin Roberts “Jungle Gym” CD was provided to OWTK for review. The opinions expressed above are unbiased and true – no arm twisting took place in the review process.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.

Wordpress Social Share Plugin powered by Ultimatelysocial