Friday, April 29, 2011

Keller Williams: "Kids" (2010 release) CD Review

Keller Williams' 16th album is a children's record that adults will enjoy too.

A lot of folks are releasing children's albums these days.They Might Be Giants, Ellis Paul, Brian Doser and Ziggy Marley have all put out children's albums in the past few years. There is also the For The Kids series, which features songs by Cake, Barenaked Ladies, The Submarines, Mates Of State and Dar Williams.

Maybe it's just that everyone's getting older, and these musicians are having kids. And of course when they have kids, they want to combine their professional and personal worlds. Although it can be said that musicians have always been having offspring, and the children's record craze is fairly new. But no matter, because some of these kids albums are actually quite good, like this one by Keller Williams.

Simply titled Kids, this CD features mostly original material, with good rhythms and playful, fun lyrics. Often musicians will include their kids on their children's albums, and Keller does so here, featuring his daughter Ella on several tracks. Several of the songs end with a child's laughter.

"My Neighbor Is Happy Again"

Keller opens this album with "My Neighbor Is Happy Again," a very silly song about a person with a goat. And because he owns a goat, he doesn't bother owning a lawn mower or a trash compactor. Here is a bit of the lyrics: "So I had to dig a moat to keep in my goat/And I had to buy a boat because my goat don't float/But my neighbor is happy again."

Sure, it's a song that kids will dig. But adults will love it just as much (if not more).

"Car Seat"

"Car Seat" is less silly, and less likely to be a favorite of the adult listener, with lines like "I'm chillin' in my car seat, smile on my face." But kids will enjoy the rhythm, and there is a very cool percussion section in the song. It ends with a bit of goofiness about "going" in the car seat.

"Because I Said So"
"Because I Said So" begins with a child asking for pink flamingos, like the ones in the neighbors' yard. The child then asks for an alligator, a bulldozer and other crazy things. The answer of course is No. "Why?/Because I said so."

This is a great song for kids, because of course they're bound to get that answer often from their parents. And knowing this song will perhaps make it easier for the kids, providing a little humor and maybe helping to avoid tantrums.

The song ends with the child asking for a goldfish. The parent responds, "Yes, you can have a goldfish/Now leave me alone."

"Hulahoop To Da Loop"
Keller Williams is known for looping tracks during his live shows, and playing along to himself. He's often been called a one-man jam band. And this song makes references to that. The kids might not get it, but who cares? The children will enjoy dancing around to this song anyway. It has a catchy rhythm.

"Horse Back Rider" is Keller and his daughter singing acappella, with finger snaps keeping the pace as they go. This is one of the tracks that ends with a child's laughter.

"Good Advice"

"Good Advice" is a silly little song featuring that old bit about picking your nose, picking your friends, but not picking your friend's nose. But Keller adds to it, singing, "Never pick your toes and then pick your nose/Because then your nose smells like your toes/And that's not good, that's bad." Then he says, "Now in Chinese." The Chinese vocals are provided by Dr. John Flower.

"Mama Tooted"

Yes, "Mama Tooted" is about exactly what you imagine it to be about. It starts, "It's perfectly natural/It can happen to anyone." Keller then likens the sounds to various animals. What makes children laugh more than farts? Well, talking or singing about farts, naturally.

The lines "She may say that she did not and she is probably right/But I am going to blame it on Mama all night" will amuse the parents as much as their children.

"Soakie Von Soakerman"
"Soakie Von Soakerman" is a strange acappella song, similar to some of the work by The Bobs, and sounding a bit like "Bathtime In Clerkenwell" by The Real Tuesday Weld.

"Lucy Lawcy" is a song about flying turkeys, and it includes a nod to The Beatles with the line, "Lucy fly in the sky with amethyst."

"Grandmother's Feather Bed" was written by Jim Connor.

"The Fastest Song In The World"

The album concludes with "The Fastest Song In The World," another track featuring Ella Williams (who is also credited as the song's writer). Most of the track, which is less than a minute, is them joking about the song, figuring out which key to sing it in, and so on. And then they sing the song, which is simply, "La."

CD Track List

  1. My Neighbor Is Happy Again
  2. Car Seat
  3. Because I Said So
  4. Hulahoop To Da Loop
  5. Horse Back Rider
  6. Taking A Bath
  7. Good Advice
  8. Keep It On The Paper
  9. Hey Little Baby
  10. Mama Tooted
  11. Soakie Von Soakerman
  12. Lucy Lawcy
  13. Grandma's Feather Bed
  14. The Fastest Song In The World

This CD is scheduled to be released October 26, 2010 on SCI Fidelity Records. Keller Williams does the lead vocals and all instruments. The children, billed as "Keller's Kid Choir," are Ella Williams, Nico Covert, Ian Covert and Tessa Claire Berman.

There is a warning in the liner notes of the CD, advising children not to steal music.

(Note: I originally posted this review on October 19, 2010.)

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