Roberts Releases Another Fun, Family Friendly Album In Recess

Courtesy:  Carpet Square Records

Courtesy: Carpet Square Records

Singer songwriter Justin Roberts’ latest full length studio release, Recess is another enjoyable album from the beloved children’s artist.  His new album comes less than a year after the release of his most recent album, LullabyLullaby was a departure of sorts for Roberts, who is more known for his indie-pop style songs than the much softer material on that release.  That’s not to say it was a bad album by any means; quite the opposite.  Rather, it was interesting in its own right because it was such a departure for him.  Now having returned to style on this latest release, parents and children that have come to know his more standard indie-pop style songs have twelve more songs to enjoy.  And they collectively could not have come at a better time, considering that kids and parents across the country have begun counting down the days to a new school year.

Recess could not have come at a better time, as parents and children across the country have officially begun the countdown of the last month of Summer vacation once again.  The album fittingly opens with its title song, which celebrates the one thing about school that any young child loves more than anything.  And he does quite the impressive job on the song, too.  Somehow, through his interpretation of the song’s lyrics, Roberts is able to put himself into the shoes and mind of a child.  He is able to so vividly express the mix of emotions that a child feels, watching the clock and dreaming of being able to get out on the blacktop and play, expending his or her energy.  The energy that builds through different spots in the song is spot on.  It reflects the energy and anticipation that builds to that magical moment when the recess bell rings.  The song’s joyful culmination is just as wonderfully interpreted.  Listeners can so easily close their eyes and see in their minds, every single bit of what Mr. Roberts sings both here and throughout the song.  It makes for such a wonderful musical movie of the mind so to speak.  It’s just part of what parents and children will enjoy on this new release.

The title track to Justin Roberts’ new album is a fun way to open the album.  And it’s just one of so many fun songs for the whole family on this album.  Roberts does a great job of expressing the joys of childhood throughout this album, not just on its opener.  ‘Hopscotch’, ‘Check me out, I’m at the Checkout’, and ‘We got Two’ so expertly capture a child’s joy at the little things in life that adults take for granted every day.  For all of the joys of childhood expressed in this song (and others), Roberts does something interesting at one point on the album.  He takes listeners into the mind of a dog–believe it or not–in ‘Every Little Step.’  This is one of the highest of high points on this album.  Interestingly enough, it’s just as easy here to close one’s eyes and take in the song from the subject’s point of view.  One can actually see a young puppy waiting at the door for his young human friend, telling listeners of his happy thoughts of his friend.  The dog in question sings happily in this song, “I’m with you every single step of the way.”  Along the way he outlines various situations and declares his loyalty to his friend.  It’s just a happy, poppy song that again, will have both parents and children smiling and singing along.

For all of the upbeat peppiness that dominates Recess, it isn’t all high energy.  That’s not a bad thing.  It does sport a pair of more mellow pieces in ‘Looking For Trains’ and the album’s closer, ‘Red Bird.’  The placement of both of these tracks is spot on.  ‘Looking for Trains’ comes in halfway through the album, allowing listeners to catch their breath.  ‘Red Bird’ closes the album.  The string that connects the pair to the rest of the album is that while they are both far mellower than their companions, they still celebrate the simple things that any youth enjoys and that far too many adults take for granted.  Roberts reminds audiences in the prior of the joy in the simplicity of listening for the sound of a train off in the distance.  One could argue to a point that the train is used here as a central point for an allegory not about trains, but about looking for life’s positives.  This could be a stretch.  But there is some truth in this statement as he sings, “It seems like you’re always looking for trains.”  The album’s closer is written and performed with much the same sincerity and gentility. 

‘Red Bird’ is a perfect counterpoint to the album’s high energy opener.  It would be interesting to know the story behind this moving work.  Roberts sings in the song’s opening verse, “I don’t wanna cry no more/The wolves headed down to my door/I don’t wanna live like I did before/There was you.”  This single line paints something of such a bittersweet back story.  By contrast, the more calming and happier refrain of “I just wanna cry some more/Watch all these wolves run away from my door/Cause I don’t even know who I was before/There was you” presents a beautifully moving picture of someone that has overcome great pain and found happiness despite that earlier pain within the song. The gentle strains of the strings and piano together make this song such a wonderfully emotional work, as does the picture painted through Roberts’ lyrics.  His equally subtle vocal style adds even more joy to the song.  The combination of all of these elements is certain to evoke some very powerful emotions in some listeners.  It’s such a bold, yet gentle reminder that through all the bad, there is good.  And it makes for the perfect way to close out such a wonderful new release from Justin Roberts.

Recess is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online from Justin Roberts’ official website at http://justinroberts.shop.musictoday.com/Product.aspx?cp=13368_61886&pc=6NCD12.  Fans can also go to Roberts’ official website and his official Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/justinrobertsmusic4kids to keep up with all of the latest news, tour information and more from the man himself.  He will be touring the Midwest through the first half of August before taking a break and then heading to the West Coast and back up the East Coast in September.

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Justin Roberts’ New LP A Fun, Folksy Record

Courtesy: Carpet Square Records

Justin Roberts’ new children’s album, Lullaby is an album unlike any other out there right now.  His new collection of songs mixes elements of James Taylor and Bob Denver with string arrangements to make a sound that both parents and kids alike will enjoy.  The album’s opener, ‘Count Them as They Go’ is an excellent start to this release.  It’s a gentle piece that’s perfect for putting infants to sleep.  Roberts sings in this song, “Picture this/A night sky/Green field/Moon high/Soft breeze/Pure love/bare feet/Stars above/And white sheep/A picket fence/Now count them as they go/Just count them as they go1-2/Just count them as they go.”  The gentle acoustic guitar, backing strings and what seems like a piano to support make for a perfectly calming combination of sounds.  Roberts’ vocals add that extra touch that puts it over the top as one of the album’s best moments.Another of this album’s high points comes in the form of the song, ‘Polar Bear.’  This is a song that’s great both for infants and toddlers.  Roberts sings of what would seem to be a father figure singing to his child, assuring said child that he will always be there no matter what.  Again, the string arrangements add another extra layer of enjoyment.  The song is centered on eighth notes played on what is either a cello or viola.  The other members of the string quartet assembled for the record make beautiful music together as they back Roberts’ vocals.  He sings softly to the child, “I know there’ll be times/When the rains will fall/And I’ll be standing in my polar bear suit/Waiting for your call/Cause you and I/We’re two of a pair/You’re sublime/And I’m your polar bear if you’re in trouble/Please know that I’m there/And don’t forget that/I’m your polar bear.”  In an odd way, the whole song kind of hints back to Elvis’ classic song about being a teddy bear, only in a different fashion.  Coincidence or not, it’s there.  And it makes it that much more of an interesting and enjoyable song.

Roberts doesn’t leave out his female audiences on this album.  In ‘A Wild One’, Roberts sings of a young lady who is getting ready for bed and is exclaiming her excitement of her mother telling her a bedtime story.  Yet again, the folksy sound mixed with the piano backing will make it a favorite for listeners of all ages.  He sings of the child’s excitement, “Let’s get it off the shelf/It’s a wild wild wild wild one/Can we read one or two/maybe ten/then start over again.”  Sure, it’s told from the standpoint of a young girl.  But it’s something to which both young girls and boys can relate.  And parents will find their own enjoyment as it could just as easily take them back to when they, too were kids.  Again, it’s just one more of the many high points offered throughout Roberts’ new LP.

Lullaby will be available in stores and online beginning November 19th.  He is touring in support of his new album and will be at Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on November 17th.  Fans in North Carolina will get to see him in the New Year.  He’ll be performing at a series of dates in Charlotte, North Carolina in January.  Fans can get his full list of tour dates and all the latest news from Justin himself online at http://www.facebook.com/justinrobertsmusic4kids and http://www.justinrobertsmusic.com.

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