As my 5-year-old daughter and I listened to This Is Fun, the new album from Caspar Babypants, she asked, “Who is the boy singing this?” I told her it was Chris Ballew, and he sings songs for kids, and sometimes for grown-ups, too (he is the lead singer of the popular Seattle-based band Presidents of the United States of America). “I need to talk to him,” she said. I asked what she wanted to tell him. “He needs to sing for kids all over the world. I like his music. It makes my body happy and dance-y.” What more do you need to know in a music review?
This Is Fun really is a great album: it is fun and down-to-earth, upbeat without being overwhelming. With This Is Fun, Ballew has put together a set of incredibly catchy tunes that kids (and parents) pick up almost immediately and sing along with. Many of these songs would fit right in with some of the best folk music out there- clean, simple rhythms, without the over-processing that too often destroys music today. You can hear each instrument, hear each voice, and appreciate how they work together, and that is part of what makes them so fun to listen to.
The lyrics are simple, poems caught on scraps of paper and put to music. From googly eyes to elephants to bouncing babies, the words are something kids can grab onto and understand. These are songs that aren’t trying too hard to be clever, or trying to make in-jokes to the parents in the room. This is music that talks right to kids and is proud of it.
The reason parents will like it? It’s just plain good. One of the songs, Baby’s Getting Up, would have fit right in on a Presidents album, and I must admit I felt a bit of nostalgia for college as I sang along to it. The words in Tumble, about a leaf falling from a tree, have a lovely, lyrical quality, and made me think of their deeper meaning as my daughter hummed behind me. And when my daughter demanded we play the whole CD again, I didn’t mind at all.
The title of the album sums it up nicely: This Is Fun is fun. And it will make your body happy and dance-y. That is all you need to know!
Note: Ruby Slipper Guide received a copy of the CD for review purposes.