Some of the best music ever composed is often thought of as such because of it's ability to, either with it's rich lyrical content (i.e., "Bob Dylan") or passionate instrumentation (i.e., Miles Davis), conjure up vivid images in the listener's mind. While a kiddie rock songwriter may trade visions of Johanna for those of a cinnamon gum ladybug, this same measuring stick of quality is true of music written for the single digit crowd.
Much like the greats who can be referred to simply by one name (Woody, Seeger, Dylan, Cher - ha!) Randy Kaplan is a dude who knows how to use words as brushstrokes. The picturesque songs of "Loquat Rooftop" radiate warmth, thanks in large part to his uniquely familiar voice and his front porch style of music. His is the musical equivalent of comfort food. Kaplan's tunes are humorous yet sincere with characters who dance happily in your imagination. He is the John Prine of the children's music scene with lyrics as sharp as an aged cheddar, wit to spare and a delivery that's the perfect marriage of singing and speaking.
"Loquat Rooftop" is his second (not just for) kid's record, and is filled with an eclectic mix of traditional tunes, famous covers ("Charlie Brown", "Tomorrow" from Broadway's Annie, Hank Williams' "Move it on Over"), and fabulous folky-jazzy-bluesy originals yet remains centered around the terrific, sentimental title track. With it's gentle, finger-picked acoustic guitar, breezy harmonica and hot summer's day imagery, "Loquat Rooftop" is one of the best kid's songs released this year (I would've sworn Kaplan was singing about a fictitious fruit but it turns out that loquats are real!).
Mike West, Kaplan's producer, penned the 2nd best cut on the record in "Clothes Dryer". The track features street festival horns that pop and includes the best sing along chorus on the disc in "...Clothes Dryer, ain't we got a line, ain't we got a yard full of sunshine". Spot OWTK on the road this month and you'll likely see us all silently screaming out those words.
Kaplan is only two records into his kid's music career, yet I already feel comfortable placing him on the top shelf alongside Justin Roberts and Frances England. I'm stoked to hear what he has in store on future (not just for) kid's releases.
Kaplan has a few live shows coming up this month - check him out at Symphony Space in Manhattan on November 22nd or join OWTK at World Cafe Live in Philly a week later on the 29th.
Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Loquat Rooftop, either physically or digitally, right now. You can sample most all the "Loquat Rooftop" songs mentioned here...right here.