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CD Review: Justin Roberts - Jungle Gym

And the song goes…
Well I used to be the king of the jungle gym
But now I’m just a sling with a broken limb
But you go on ahead yeah I know you’ll have a blast
But before you go, sign my cast


As a self proclaimed music snob and a new parent, the idea of kids' music frightened me to no end. The thought of listening to the Wiggles or Barney was far from appealing. I felt like the music was insulting to both the kids and the parents. But at the same time, I knew my daughter wouldn’t really care for my music for a very, very long time -- or ever. Thankfully, by pure accident, I discovered the Kindie music scene. Road trips with our daughter are going to be a lot more enjoyable thanks to this discovery.

The first artist from the Kindie music scene I listened to was Justin Roberts.  Roberts lives in the Chicago area, with prior stints in Minneapolis and Iowa. Roberts is similar to Fountains of Wayne or Semisonic/Trip Shakespeare in that he could sing about anything, I mean anything, and it would sound tremendous. He’s an incredibly smart songwriter. It takes a special talent to write songs that appeal to both 5-year-olds and 35-year-olds.

Arguably the King of the Kindie Rock scene, Justin Roberts returns with his seventh children’s CD, Jungle Gym (Carpet Square Records). After seven records you might think he would run out of song ideas: Not a chance. Sleepovers, snow days, fire drills, duck duck goose, wearing a cast, trick or treat and getting lost in the mall are all covered on Jungle Gym

While Jungle Gym lacks some of the emotional power of songs from his previous CD Meltdown, the album still has plenty of shining moments. On Sleepoverland, a child imagines his parents missing him while he’s gone: “And they’d say hello, hello, we really miss you hello, hello, we wanna kiss you.” In Never Getting Lost, Roberts imagines what is going through a child’s head after he gets separated from his mom at the mall: “But when I saw her face I could almost see, She was looking just as lost as me.” Or the joys of a child’s imagination in Cardboard Box: “We got this cardboard box in the mail, Dad emptied it out last night and we sailed, Out into the middle of the sea.” 

The songs work so well because they remind parents what it's like to be little and help you understand what your little one is thinking in those moments. It doesn't hurt the songs are so catchy that I'm singing along after a second listen.

If you've been afraid of buying children’s music, let Justin Roberts ease your fear. Parents who appreciate a good chorus and kids who realize a song was written about them, this album is for you. You can buy it straight from his website www.justinrobertsmusic.com or iTunes.

Roberts is always touring (we saw a show in Madison last month) and plays the Chicago area pretty often. Check him out; he puts on a great show.

CD: Jungle Gym
Artist: Justin Roberts
Audience: 3-8 yrs old (and above!)
Sounds like: Fountains of Wayne
Buy from: www.justinrobertsmusic.com
Free download: Sleepoverland

Track List
1. We Go Duck
2. Sleepoverland
3. Trick or Treat
4. Sign My Cast
5. Gym Class Parachute
6. Obsessed by Trucks
7. Cardboard Box
8. Snow Day
9. Never Getting Lost
10. New Haircut
11. Fire Drill
12. 2 x 4

1 Comment for "CD Review: Justin Roberts - Jungle Gym"

  1. "Good" kid's music is great, but let's not think that our kids won't "really care for my music for a very, very long time -- or ever." I am a musician and when we brought our son home, had a lullaby CD ready for him. It begins with Michael Feinstein's version of "Pure Imagination" from Willie Wonka and ends with Neptune from Gustav Holst's "The Planets". In between is Duke Ellington, W.A. Mozart, James Taylor, Aaron Copland and Gabriel Faure, to name only a few. My son is nine, still wants that music every night and takes CDs out of the library that are just as varied. Expose, expose, expose. As soon as our daughter was able to speak, she let us know that she DIDN"T want the CD because she likes to sleep with quiet. BUT, because she and her brother are so close in age and inseparable play partners, she's hearing the wide variety of music that he likes. We listen to Hannah Montana, and I'm going to have to find out this summer who Justin Bieber is, but we also go to the symphony and sit quietly and listen. Expose, expose, expose. 60 years ago, my mother turned up the volume on Stan Kenton records when her parents were gone, 30 years ago, I played Earth, Wind and Fire and I'm sure my kids will have their own too. Variety is the spice of life! ;)

    nancyherro Jun 07, 2010 9:31 AM

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