Billy Jonas isn't Stu Sutcliffe or Pete Best.
I didn't chart the whole family tree, but it's safe to assume this Billy is not one of Thee Jonas Brothers. (Please excuse me linking The Jonas Brothers to The Beatles in any way.)
Mr. Jonas starts his new children's album off with a bang courtesy of the percussive and vocal driven "Eyes Wide Open". The track is spacious, with plenty of room to breath. Yet it's also warm enough to invite you inside and quickly wraps it's arms around you. After 3 minutes, you are sucked in and want to hear more - exactly what "Track 1" is supposed to do.
The dozen or so cuts that follow do not loosen the grip. You will be a captive audience as the CD spins. This is because Jonas manages to reach out from his Asheville, NC home and interact with you, much like during a live show. This is no small feat of course, considering that recorded material is a more passive experience (than a concert). Within minutes of popping "Happy Accidents" into the stereo both of my kids were moving their arms and shaking their rumps. By the middle of the 2nd song, "Who's Gonna Make Our Music?!", my ladies ran off to grab an empty water bottle and a sauce pan to bang. 'Twas an instant party!
The first couple of tunes get you musically. "Open Sesame", 4 songs in, is where Billy Jonas flexes his lyrical muscle. In the witty ode to common catch phrases Mr. Jonas strings together a myriad of 'em - "Pay Attention", "Watch Your Mouth", "Bite the Dust", etc. - we as adults may hear or even use without much thought but, taken literally, likely sound rather odd to a kid the first time around.
The lyrical cleverness continues on the title track. "Happy Accidents" offers a valuable lesson for kids and adults alike. We learn that many of the famous inventions throughout time were birthed from failure. Penicillin, Corn Flakes and Sticky Notes all started out as something else entirely, something that didn't quite work out. As a father of a 5 year who is very hard on herself when she screws up a painting or misses the backboard playing basketball, "Happy Accidents" is a great conversation starter. It helps to reinforce my message of positivity and creativity in the face of what initially may appear to be a mistake. Next, Jonas follows up his 2002 title track "What Kind Of Cat Are You?!" with the equally brilliant "What Kind of Dog Are You?"
While your youngsters might not catch references to the Bee Gees and Snoop Dogg or understand words like accountant and pigment, but you will. The song, like this entire record, has a little something for everyone.
Not every song hits the mark, at least not in my house. "Get There" is a cool idea (don't sweat the small stuff, you're destined to get to where you want to go) but fails to energize or engage. There is an undeniable spiritual overtone in "You Are Not Alone", an over-reaching song that muddles up the middle of the record. Fortunately, the charming fun returns with "Knock, Knock" and "One Tutu Too Many", both of which incite the giggles and showcase Mr. Jonas' remarkably quick wit and clever kiddie songwriting skills.
Not only is the album a great listen, it's also a great value. While some of the best kid's music to be released this year lasts less than 1/2 hour (Lunch Money, Robbert Bobbert, Gustafer Yellowgold), "Happy Accidents" is 22 tracks long, clocking in at nearly 50 minutes. Hey, were in a recession so value-for-your-entertainment-dollar is worth mentioning...right?
Sample all the songs and buy "Happy Accidents" from CDBaby today.