It's always a happy day when new Gustafer Yellowgold songs surface...and today is that day! Our little buddy from the sun is back with 11 new tales. He's as cute & quirky as he was when we first met him over 2 years (and 2 DVDs) ago.
The new batch of mellow yellow songs from Morgan Taylor & Co. are texturally rich and more lyrically complex than prior efforts. Yet, at the same time, the cuts that comprise "Mellow Fever" maintain the dreamy pop sound that has made Gustafer Yellowgold such a phenomenon in the children's music world.
For the uninitiated, songs & videos in Gustafer Yellowgold's World are like mini theatrical productions capable of standing alone or as part of a whole. This is possible because there isn't a linear storyline within each CD/DVD. While this format remains true on Mellow Fever, there are now these short lead-ins (5 to 20 seconds each) before every song/video - entertaining interludes that help flesh out the story while bridging the narrative gap between the tunes. These added A/V clips make the disc feel more like a holistic piece of work and less like a collection of kick-ass You Tube clips. A perfect touch, one that I hope Mr. Taylor continues to employ going forward.
As for the songs themselves, we discover some added details about our hero's time on the Sun and his eventual voyage to Earth. "Butter Pond Lake" tells of the Yellowgold's favorite watering hole, a warm relaxing retreat complete with darkening bugs, the Sun's version of fireflies. We witness Gustafer's emotional farewell to his parents and his dog, Ray, on "Sunpod". A song that serves as the visual prequel to the GY classic "Your Eel" and also where we learn of the architectural influences for Gusty's Minnesota home. We also meet a couple new friends on the sweet "Sugar Boat" and "Quite Easily Lost" (featuring Lisa Loeb).
It took a little time before the greatness of "Mellow Fever" made itself audibly evident to me. Save for the danceable "Panther Stamps Pants," the new songs seemed, at first blush, less catchy then the tunes on "Wide Wild World" and "Have You Never Been Yellow?". As a result, the music didn't instantly connect with me or the kids when we first watched the DVD.
Everything changed when the CD entered the car. Once the focus of the new stories and instrumentation was isolated to my ears, I quickly came down with a severe case of Mellow Fever. I know why the record didn't immediately click for me. It's been the pattern of great music hitting my humble ears, it takes a while for the layers of beautiful sound to penetrate my novice musical brain. Of the records that have proven their staying power in my library, nearly all of 'em provoked melancholy reactions initially.
So I needed to start with just the music and once I did, the subtle grace of the tracks was undeniable. Now the visuals, which deserve their own glowing review entirely, make perfect sense and are equally brilliant. Thinking about it now, it's almost ridiculous that the songs didn't click the first time because they are so insanely wonderful.
While each and every song is gorgeous to look at and listen to, for me, "Mellow Fever" is all about it's closing act. The disc's finale "Constellation Pies," contains the fewest words of any GY tune yet is the prettiest and most musically creative. As the song unfolds an elegant french horn plays through the refrain of each of the previous 10 tracks. On the DVD, the main image from each song appears in the sky as a constellation, high above Gustafer as he rests in the grass. It's magnificent and utterly sublime and, in just 3 minutes, encapsulates the greatness of what Morgan Taylor has created in Gustafer Yellowgold.
I've no doubt that "Mellow Fever" will be in the running for the Kid's Record of the 2009. There is simply no weak moment here and I declare, without hesitation, that "Mellow Fever" is Morgan Taylor's most accomplished work to date.
Also included on the DVD, a hilarious mockumentary called "Looking for Gustafer Yellowgold". The grainy footage, goofy interviews and hilarious reenactments are so authentic you'll start to believe the thing could actually run on the History or Discovery Channel.
Enough of my words, GO NOW and BUY "Mellow Fever" directly from Yellowgold Headquarters!