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

Lunch Money – Spicy Kid CD Review

LUNCH MONEY SPICY KID

You could almost see it. You could almost imagine pulling open one of those secret compartments on the side of a child’s jewelry box revealing the inside of that itsy bitsy space designed to hide away not much more than a stray fallen gem from an arts-n-crafts tiara and a folded up square of tiny paper, the inside of which is adorned with a hand drawn heart and a bright yellow corner sun shining down upon it.  When you hear Lunch Money’s Spicy Kid, the 4th album from the South Carolina kindie pop sweethearts, you’ll picture them inside there too, just as precious and worth holding onto forever after as any individual memento from a well-spent childhood.

Everything is in miniature here; every sewn together vocal, every delicate tapping of the snare drum, every plucked bass line.  These are soundscapes so small they could fit in the palm of your hand, and emotions so genuine, heartfelt and beautiful as to make you tear up a little.  The cuts off of Spicy Kid are parent songs mostly, my spicy pair haven’t reacted too much yet other than to the tempered shouting of “I’m a spicy kid” in the title track.  Me, I’m the opposite.  I am leaning in for the whole of this 27 minute album, not wanting to let a single phrase slip past me.  This is because when songwriter Molly Ledford is in charge you never know when you’ll uncover a lyrical gem like “You ask ‘Where is the bathroom?’ / and they hand you a balloon / No one understands you / but I do” – the opening salvo of “Translator”.

What is happening to Ledford, a mom to two spicy kids herself, during this song cycle is what happens to every decent parent, ones without their head shoved up their ass (you know the ones I’m talking about).  That is to say that as your children age, your natural inclination is to reflect back on those moments never to return and recall them fondly, and with gut-wrenching honesty.  I think this was also the genesis of mom blogging, before becoming about maximizing PR opportunities and posting cut-n-paste press release reviews, & giveaways.  So, whether your early parenting days included:

  • the gaggle of elderly women in the hospital, “mothers and grandmothers many times over”, offering you advice on caring for your newborn (the drop-dead gorgeous “You Were A Basket Of Flowers”), or
  • the moment you realized the spelling of words to converse over the heads of your kids is no longer a functional trick (S.P.E.L.L.), or
  • being in love with the notion that you are the only one in the whole entire world who understands all of your toddler’s early vocalizations yet also empathic for what they themselves cannot feel from confused adults helplessly nodding along (the aforementioned “Translator”), or
  • the precise knowledge of where each floorboard creak is located along the dark path between bedrooms as you make your nightly new-parent walk down the hall holding your breath until you hear theirs (“Awake”),

Ledford and Lunch Money have delicately, and at times humorously, put our collective parenting record on record (and mp3).  If you are unable to appreciate the witty, tear-jerking nuance here, you probably also aren’t hugging your kids enough, and I’m then forced to have serious doubts about you as a parent.  Listening to Lunch Money won’t make you a better mom or dad, but doing so will confirm whether you are a great one.

The lyrics of Molly Ledford are the shadow mark on a painted balloon — that tiny addition that elevates something already beautiful into something utterly and romantically perfect.  Lunch Money songs have always had that special glint, but the ten on the down-tempo, wrapped-in-a-quilt Spicy Kid are even more knowing.  And even more perfect, just like that scribbled heart tucked away inside a folded-up piece of paper slid inside a jewelry box drawer, waiting to be discovered years after it was drawn.  And just try keeping the tears at bay when that happens too.

*OWTK received a copy of Spicy Kid for review consideration. The opinions above are honest and unbiased, as always.

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