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Justin Roberts' Pop Fly: Grammy-Level Brilliance

by Kathy O’Connell

I thought last month’s bounty of great new music couldn’t be equaled until I opened this month’s treasures. If there is justice in this world, his new CD Pop Fly will bring Justin Roberts a Grammy nomination. It’s just brilliant.

The title track applies Roberts’ trademark Buddy Holly stutter (“pop pop pop pop fly”) to the distractions of playing right field (“dandelions growing along the fence.”) “She’s a Yellow Reflector” celebrates a sister who helps kids cross the street. Roberts recalls everyone’s grandmother’s recipes as he details his grandmother’s knack for making everything “From Scratch.”

“Stay-at-Home Dad” gets “a B or an A” for letting “the chips fall where they may.” He isn’t superdad, but kids know “our favorite time on earth is when we’re hanging with him.”

Roberts weaves several styles and productions together, but ultimately it’s the sweet simplicity of his voice and his on-target subjects that make Pop Fly an album for all ages. www.justinrobertsmusic. com

All-Seasons CD
Don’t let spring pass without discovering Rebecca Frezza & Big Truck’s Special Kind of Day, a CD that takes listeners through all seasons with all kinds of music.

Hibernating animals get the urge to “Come on Out” because “spring is in the air” in the sweetly rocking opening track.

People get out of the house and on the train in “Clack-Ity-Clack.” Frezza’s band captures the varying speeds of train travel by using varying rhythms within the song.

The album’s hidden treasure is “Butterfly,” a Sondheim-esque reflection on “a weakling green critter crawling up a tree” who transforms into the soaring beauty of the title. If spring gets by you, seek out the summer joys of “Sidewalk Chalk,” a funky rhythmic round with some nice jazz flute work. That flute reappears in the “whirling and swirling and holding on tight” of a “Carnival Ride” marking the end of summer.

“Spooky Dance” never mentions Halloween, but I guarantee Frezza will alter the way you say “spooky” forever. “Leaves are Falling” has a courtly old English feeling to it, then goes into an almost Latin riff with haunting violin backing up another winning round. Find Special Kind of Day at www. bigtruckmusic.com

African Sounds
Winding down after a long day is a universal experience, and the Putumayo Kids label focuses on African lullabies in African Dreamland, their latest collection of dreamy songs from around the world.

The sounds are soothing, from Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s opening track from South Africa (“Nomathemba”) to the brilliantly haunting “Agalilala” from Uganda’s Samite.

The kalimba (thumb piano) is the only accompaniment to her
wonderful voice on Chiwoniso’s “Usa Cheme” from Zimbabwe. It’s a perfect instrument for children’s ears. The adults’ favorite, the guitar, is featured beautifully on “Mali Sadio” from Mali’s Habib Koité.

The only traditional-sounding lullaby on the album is a sweet duet on “Kula Bebe” by Bernadette Aningi and Anita Daulne, representing Cameroon and Belgium. Get some rest and get this CD at www.putumayo.com

Kathy O’Connell is a contributing writer to MetroKids and host of the Peabody-award-winning Kids Corner, weekdays 7-8pm on WXPN 88.5 FM.