Family entertainer Justin Roberts released his latest full-length studio recording late last month. Wild Life, Roberts’ 14th solo recording, the album is a work that parents will appreciate just as much as their younger counterparts. That is due in part to the album’s overall musical content, which will be discussed shortly. The song’s lyrical content is just as admirable as its musical content. The LP’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation. When it is considered alongside the album’s other noted elements, the record’s presentation in whole makes it easily one of this year’s top new family music albums.
Justin Roberts’ new album Wild Life is one of this year’s most enjoyable new family music offering. Released Feb. 28, the 10-song, 32-minute record offers plenty for audiences to appreciate, not the least of which being its musical content. From the deeply emotional, to the light and uplifting, this celebration of parenthood presents nothing but enjoyment in its musical content. That noted light, uplifting sound opens the album in ‘Heart Like A Door,’ the LP’s opener. Roberts plays what sounds like either a ukulele or a mandolin as he sings about that love that a parent feels when holding a newborn baby. What’s important to note here is that never once does Roberts allow the song’s arrangement to get so schmaltzy and saccharine sweet, that it becomes something cheesy. Rather, the emotion is well-balanced, mirroring so well, what any parent feels in those early days of parenthood. It is just one of the prime examples of how this album’s lyrical content makes it so appealing. The arrangement at the center of ‘When You First Let Go’ is another example of the importance of the album’s musical content. The song, finds its subject remembering the first time that his/her parent let go and let him/her ride a bicycle alone for the first time. The deeper meaning in the song’s lyrical content will be addressed a little later, but in terms of its musical arrangement, this is one of the album’s more emotional moments. It is so simple, with just Roberts, a guitar and what sounds like a flute. Yet, even in that simplicity, Roberts and whomever else recorded the song alongside him crafted a song that creates so much emotion just in the arrangement. It wastes no time tugging at the heartstrings, reaching deep into listeners’ hearts and minds. The arrangement at the heart of ‘Hide and Seek’ mixes the album’s lighter and more emotional for one whole that will entertain and engage listeners just as much as any of the album’s any other works. The addition of the harmonica to the arrangement conjures thoughts of Bob Dylan, especially considering the subtle use of the guitar throughout the song. The whole of the song is just one more example of why this record’s arrangements are so important to its whole. When it is considered alongside the rest of the album’s arrangements, the whole of that content does more than enough to make the album notable in whole. That content is only one part of what makes the record so engaging and entertaining. Its lyrical content adds to its appeal.
The lyrical content featured throughout this album is so important to note because of its ability to connect with every parent. ‘Heart Like A Door’ centers on a parent’s heart being always open and welcoming. This is something to which any parent will relate without doubt. ‘Maybe She’ll Have Curly Hair’ finds the song’s subject dreaming about what his/her daughter will look like after she is born. It also talks about the kind of person that she will be as she grows up. If this and the song’s companion arrangement doesn’t draw a tear from a parent, that parent is either hard –hearted or just not human. ‘When You First Let Go,’ as addressed earlier, is one of the album’s most notable entries in part because of its deeply emotional musical arrangement. Its lyrical content adds even more depth to its presentation. The song centers on a parent recalling the first time that his/her own parent(s) let him/her take off on a bicycle alone, after so much time with training wheels and parental help. The reflection comes as that parent watches his/her own child go off on a bicycle alone, too. What is important here is that on the surface is about letting that child ride alone. However on a deeper level, Roberts makes those hints that this is about much more; letting go in general and letting the child grow up and develop a certain sense of independence. The manner in which Roberts does this is impressive in its own right. When it is coupled with the song’s arrangement, the whole of the song becomes one of the album’s highest peaks. ‘Hide and Seek’ is another key example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content. The song is a gentle reminder to children that “there ain’t nobody don’t want to be found.” It’s him saying that everyone wants to be found and to be wanted. The addition of the biblical reference of Moses adds even more depth to the song. It really brings the song together and makes the song stand out even more. When this is considered along with the engaging, that of the other songs noted here and that of the rest of the album’s songs, the content couples with the album’s musical content to show without doubt, why this record’s overall content more than makes the record in whole impressive. The collective musical and lyrical content that makes up the body of Wild Life goes a long way toward making the album an enjoyable, memorable work. The sequencing of that content puts the finishing touch to the record’s presentation, cementing its place in this year’s pantheon of new family music lists.
The sequencing of Wild Life’s songs is so important because of the impact that the songs’ energies have in the bigger picture of the album’s appeal. As already noted, the album opens gently with ‘Heart Like A Door,’ which creates the image of a parent holding a child for the very first time in the hospital, only hours after birth. It starts so soft and gentle, but gradually picks up, with the parent feeling so happily overwhelmed with that love for his/her child. The album’s energy pulls back from there in the almost dreamy ‘Maybe She’ll Have Curly Hair’ before picking back up at least a little bit in ‘I’ve Got The World (for You).’ Things pick up a little more as the album progresses into the light, bouncy ‘Glad You’re Here’ before pulling back yet again in ‘You Grew,’ which presents a parent looking back at his/her child growing up. That deeply emotional pull continues into ‘When You First Let Go’ and ‘Ain’t No Way.’ Though, the energy in ‘Ain’t No Way’ isn’t as over the top emotional as that in its predecessor. ‘Be Not Afraid’ is another reserved work, but it too gives way for something slightly more upbeat as the album makes its way into ‘Hide and Seek,’ albeit only slightly. Roberts keeps the energy pulled back on the album’s closer, finishing things off just as lightly as they started. Throughout the course of Wild Life’s body, the energy rises and falls just enough, illustrating expertly, the different thoughts and emotions that parents feel when they become parents. That well-balanced energy joins with the positives of the songs’ musical and lyrical content to make the album in whole a work that new and longtime parents alike will enjoy just as much as their children.
Justin Roberts’ latest full-length studio recording Wild Life is a wonderful new offering from the veteran family entertainer that parents will appreciate just as much as children. It is a work that in a time when families are so separated, will hopefully unite families with its songs about the love of parents for their children. That lyrical content couples with the album’s musical content to make for an enjoyable, impressive whole. The record’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation, rounding out the record’s whole. Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of this album. All things considered, they make Wild Life an enjoyable new offering that will indeed appeal to parents as much as their children. The album is available now. More information on Wild Life is available online along with all of Justin Roberts’ latest news and more at:
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