Family music entertainers have, like acts in every other genre across the music universe, been adversely impacted this year by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Their live plans have been put on hold for the foreseeable future. In the same vein, while the pandemic has put a (hopefully) temporary hold on live music, it has not prevented acts within the realm to release new albums. That means that a list of the year’s top new Family Music albums is just as qualified as that for any other genre. This year’s list of top new Family Music albums features new titles from some of the most well-known names within the realm, including but not limited to this year’s list topper The Okee Dokee Brothers, Paul Winter, and Justin Roberts. It also features some younger acts, such as Roger Day, Greg Lato, and Lindsay Munroe. Between them and others, this year produced many enjoyable albums within the Family Music world.
The list of this year’s best new records, offers the Top 10 new albums in the genre and five honorable mention titles, for a total of 15 albums. Without any further ado, here is Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Family Music Albums.
PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY MUSIC ALBUMS
The Okee Dokee Brothers – Songs For Singin’
Alastair Mook & Friends – Be A Pain: An Album For Youn (And Old) Leaders
Justin Roberts – Wild Life
Red Yarn – Backyard Bop
David Gibb & Brady Rymer – Songs Across The Pond
Paul Winter – Light of the Sun
Flor Bromley – Fiesta Global
Lindsay Munroe – I Am Kind
Joanie Leeds – All The Ladies
123 Andres – Hola Amigo
Rolie Polie Guacamole – Avocado
Roger Day – Invincible
Sara Lovell – Night Life
Greg Lato – Create My Own World
Ants Ants Ants – Colors All Around
Next up from Phil’s Picks is the list of 2020’s Top 10 New Country/Bluegrass/Folk/Americana Albums. Stay tuned for that.
Family entertainer Brady Rymer is keeping himself busy this year. Rymer released his latest album Songs Across The Pond over the summer. The record was a collaboration with fellow family entertainer David Gibb. Later this month he will host a free livestream concert. The performance is scheduled to take place noon ET on Dec. 19 through Rymer’s official Facebook page. Additionally, Rymer and his fellow musicians The Little Band That Could debuted their latest single, ‘Angels in The Snow’ Friday. The song is the lead single from the group’s new holiday compilation by the same name, which was released Nov. 6 through Bumblin’ Bee Records. The record is among the most unique of this year’s new holiday music compilations if not the year’s most unique. That is due in no small part to the record’s featured songs, which will be discussed shortly. The musical arrangements that are featured within the four song EP add their own share of interest to the record, and will be discussed a little later. The songs’ sequencing rounds out the most important of the EP’s elements. When it is considered with the noted other items, the whole of those items makes Angels in the Snow a holiday music compilation that the whole family will enjoy.
Angels in the Snow, the new holiday music compilation from Brady Rymer & The Little Band That Could, is presentation that holds is own against its counterparts in this year’s field of new holiday music compilations. That is due in no small part to the record’s featured songs. Of the four songs that make up the record’s body, three are originals. Only one – ‘My Favorite Things’ – is a cover. The album’s lead single and title track does incorporate the traditional holiday song ‘Angels We Have Heard on High,’ but its use in that song is minimal at best. It is more of a “supporting element” to the bigger composition than its focus. Even the lyrical themes in the songs are largely original, making the songs even more engaging and entertaining. ‘Why, Daddy, Why’ for instance is something to which every parent and child can relate. It finds a young child asking his/her dad why he/she has to wait to open his/her presents on Christmas morning. The anticipation is so difficult for the child as he/she has to wait for his/her parents to get coffee first and do other things.
While ‘My Favorite Things’ is at its heart, a cover of the timeless classic from The Sound of Music, this version presents the “favorite things” of a dog. Among those favorite things are: hanging the dog’s head out the window of a moving vehicle, feeling snowflakes fall on its nose, and “naps in the cool shade.” So even while they have covered a classic here, Rymer and company still give the song a new, unique touch that adds even more to the appeal to its presentation and that of the EP.
‘Writing A Letter to Santa Claus’ is another way in which the EP’s songs show their own importance. This song is straight forward. It is told from the vantage point of a child who is writing that letter to Santa with all of his/her wishes for Christmas. What is really interesting about the song’s lyrical theme is that while yes, there are wishes for certain toys and other items, the letter also tells Santa that the child wants to ride in his sleigh, etc. So it’s not just about the toys. That adds even more appeal to the song. In turn, it adds even more appeal to the EP overall. Keeping that in mind along with the content in the other noted songs and their overall originality, no doubt is left at this point as to the importance of the songs featured in Rymer and company’s new EP to its presentation. They are just a portion of what makes the record stand out. The musical arrangements featured within the songs add their own touch to the EP’s presentation, too.
The arrangements that are featured within Angels in the Snow are just as original as the songs themselves. They are also diverse. The EP’s closer, ‘Writing A Letter to Santa’ presents a vintage country/western style arrangement, complete with the slide guitar twang that is so trademark to the genre and the just as audible twang in Rymer’s vocal delivery. The subtle addition of the organ (likely a Hammond B3) and the gentle snare drum rolls enriches the song’s arrangement even more. Much the same can be said of the addition of the sleigh bells just as Rymer mentions the reindeer.
The simple arrangement featured in the EP’s title track/opener lends itself ever so slightly to works from Soul Asylum, giving listeners even more musical variety. As a matter of fact, one could argue that Rymer’s vocal delivery here lends itself just as slightly to not just Soul Asylum front man Dave Pirner, but also to The Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger. The Jagger comparison is especially audible in the song’s choruses while the comparison to Pirner is more noticeable in the verses. The stylistic approach to the song’s instrumentation, what with the use of the drums, keyboards, and guitar add to the comparison to Soul Asylum works. The equally subtle use of the bells adds its own special touch to the song’s arrangement. The whole of this arrangement is just one more exhibition of how the record’s musical content makes the record’s musical side so important. The arrangement featured in ‘Why, Daddy, Why’ is yet another example of what makes the record’s musical presentation so important.
The musical arrangement featured in ‘Why, Daddy, Why’ takes listeners back to the 1960s. This arrangement is one that will especially appeal to parents (and even grandparents). That is thanks to the use of the horns, piano, and drums. The immediate comparison that comes to this critic’s mind is that of Dr. John. Such comparison is due more to the song’s instrumentation here than Rymer’s performance. The energy is there, but is also just controlled enough to paint a rich of that child on the stairs, head in hands, waiting so patiently yet anxiously. At the same time, the overall sound conjures those thoughts of those night clubs from days gone by. It is an arrangement in whole that has so much substance, in other words, and is certain to appeal to listeners of all ages. When this is considered along with the appeal in the other songs addressed here and with that of Rymer’s updated take of ‘My Favorite Things,’ the arrangements in whole prove to be just as important to the EP’s presentation as its songs. Together, these two elements more than ensure listeners’ engagement and enjoyment, and are just a portion of what makes the record stand out. The songs’ sequencing rounds out the EP’s most important elements.
In listening through the course of Angels in Snow, listeners will note that the 13-minute record is mostly a gentle, relaxed presentation. Its mid-tempo opener, more relaxed take of ‘My Favorite Things’ and reserved energy in its closer collectively keep its mood relatively relaxed without being too slow. ‘Why, Daddy, Why’ meanwhile breaks up that more relaxed sense that populates most of the song, what with its more excited energy and lyrical content. In breaking up the album and changing things up even momentarily, that variance helps to make the record’s sequencing just as impacting as the EP’s overall content. Keeping this in mind, the positive result of the EP’s sequencing shows its importance just as much as the EP’s songs and their musical arrangements. All things considered, they make the record in whole a surprisingly welcome musical gift that the whole family will enjoy.
Brady Rymer & The Little Band The Could have released in its new EP Angels in the Snow, a work that is among the best of this year’s new holiday music compilations if not the year’s best overall. That is proven in part through the songs that make up the record’s body. They are largely original compositions instead of covers. Their lyrical content is original, too, even in the cover of ‘My Favorite Things.’ The arrangements that accompany the songs and their lyrical content are original in their own right. This adds even more pleasure to the listening experience in the case of this EP. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements. It ensures listeners’ engagement and enjoyment just as much as the record’s content because of how it balances the EP’s energy. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the record. All things considered they make Angels in the Snow a record that will find plenty of plays any holiday season.
Angels in the Snow is available now. More information on the album is available along with Brady Rymer’s latest news at:
It’s amazing sometimes, what something as simple as a compliment can do. Three years ago, David Gibb sent an email to Brady Rymer offering his compliments to Rymer for his body of work. That chance email bearing a simple compliment was the catalyst for a friendship that since then, has gone on to produce a new album from each artist that features the other. It also has led to the creation of a collaborative record from the duo that is scheduled for release Friday through Bumblin’ Bees/Little Seeds/SGO in the form of Songs Across The Pond. The title comes from the fact that the friends live on either side of the Atlantic, one in the United States and the other in Great Britain. The 12-song record is a work that is certain to appeal to listeners of all ages. That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements, which will be addressed shortly. The album’s accessible lyrical content adds to its appeal and will be discussed a little later. Its sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later. All three items noted here are key in their own way to the whole of this recording. All things considered, they make Songs Across The Pond a work that families on both sides of the pond will enjoy.
David Gibb and Brady Rymer’s new collaboration album Songs Across the Pond is a successful offering from the duo. That is due in part to the record’s musical arrangements. The arrangements give audiences plenty to appreciate in themselves. This is proven right from the album’s outset in its title track/opener. The keyboard, guitars and vocal delivery join with the horns, bass and choral lines to create a blues-infused song composition that lends itself to comparison to works from the likes of Susan Tedeschi. ‘Two Towns,’ the albums second song, meanwhile presents a distinct 80s-infused sound in its arrangement. That is made clear through the combined vocal delivery style, piano line and guitars. As the album makes its way into its third song, ‘Hey There,’ one can easily make a comparison between this song’s arrangement to works from say Gin Blossoms and – to a lesser extent – Wilson Phillips. It is very much a 90s pop sort of sensibility. Things change even more in the album’s fourth song, ‘Living in a Beatles Song.’ This song is arguably the album’s best song both because of its musical arrangement and its lyrical content. The song’s musical arrangement itself is a direct tribute to the music of The Beatles, complete with the harmonica line from the band’s timeless song ‘Love Me Do.’ Gibb and Brady keep things quite interesting as they move into ‘Summertime Soul.’ There is a distinct classic pop rock influence in this song. At the same time though, there is also a bit of a modern indie-pop sensibility to the song. The modern folk approach taken in ‘Travelling David’ – the album’s midpoint – changes things up once more, keeping things interesting up to that point. Listeners’ engagement and entertainment continues from that point on to the album’s end, as the arrangements continue changing style throughout the second half of the record. Keeping all of this in mind, the musical content featured throughout Songs Across The Pond forms a solid foundation for its presentation. It will appeal just as much to adults as to children. It is just one part of what makes this album a success. The album’s lyrical content adds its own share of appeal to its presentation.
The lyrical content featured throughout Songs Across The Pond are crucial to its presentation because they are just as accessible to listeners of all ages as their musical counterparts. Case in point is the lyrical content featured in ‘Living in a Beatles Song.’ The duo pays tribute to so many Beatles songs here, including but not limited to ‘A Hard Day’s Night,’ ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand.’ Throughout the course of the three-minute-plus song, that lyrical tribute is in whole, its own full-length tribute to The Beatles and their influence. Yes, there are bands out there who are more well known than Gibb and Rymer, who have also paid tribute to The Beatles, but few if any have done so in the fashion of this duo. It truly is a unique presentation in its own right. ‘Two Towns’ is another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content. On the surface, this song features Gibb and Rymer singing about the traditions of their own countries. There is a note about Halloween and Christmas – apparently Father Christmas “comes down to the river on a boat full of presents and sweets in Great Britain according to this song. Meanwhile on this side of the Atlantic, people dress up their pets on Halloween, and festivals that celebrate agriculture and even crown a Strawberry Queen.” On a deeper level, this song is a starting point for discussions about cultural diversity. Whether that function was manifest or latent is anyone’s guess, but it is there nonetheless. What’s more, that discussion is needed and welcome in homes and classrooms especially now more than ever. It is just one more way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so critical to its presentation. ‘Get Up With Me and Dance’ is yet another way in which the album’s lyrical content proves so important to its presentation. This is another of those songs that serves a dual purpose. On the surface, it is a song that promotes dancing. On another level, it is a song that promotes and celebrates the joy that it can and does bring to a person. It goes so far as to even note, “It’s amazing what a song can do/If you don’t’ believe me/Then I’ll prove it to you/’Cause when a song makes you shiver down into your bones/It gives you a feeling/A feeling like you’re home/It might make you laugh/Or it might make you cry/It doesn’t really matter/Just welcome it inside.” Again, this is promoting joy and just letting one’s self let go and let all those emotions out. This is a message that will appeal to listeners of all ages any time, not just now during the stressful times caused by everything happening in the world. When this positive, uplifting content is considered along with the rest of the album’s lyrical content, that whole strengthens the album’s presentation even more, proving that much more why this record is such an appealing presentation. Together with the album’s musical content, the overall content proves itself unquestionably crucial to the album’s presentation and more than enough reason for audiences to hear this record. Even with all of this in mind, it still is not the last of the album’s most important elements. Its sequencing rounds out its most important items.
The sequencing of Songs Across The Pond ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment because it keeps the album’s energy stable throughout. The 41-minute record’s bluesy, mid-tempo opener is a stable opener. That energy stays relatively stable throughout. That is the case even as the musical styles change from one song to the next. The only time when the album pulls back is its finale, ‘Happy To Be Going Home.’ The song’s arrangement is a reserved composition that conjures thoughts of Bob Dylan and Don Mclean, but is still a happy work even with that reserved nature. That ability to so expertly balance the album’s varied musical influences and energies says a lot about those responsible for the album’s sequencing. The result is an album that keeps ensures even more, listeners’ maintained engagement and entertainment through that thought. When this is considered along with the impact of the album’s content by itself, the whole of the album proves unquestionably that it deserves its own spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family music albums.
David Gibb and Brady Rymer’s new collaborative album Songs Across The Pond is a work that the whole family will appreciate. That is proven in part through its musical arrangements, which find themselves accessible to listeners of all ages, taking listeners back to the golden age of folk and rock and even back to the 90s. The album’s lyrical content is just as accessible to listeners of all ages as its musical content. Sometimes the messages in the album’s lyrical content are simple. At others, they are actually quite deep. The album’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation. Each noted item is key in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make the album another welcome addition to this year’s field of new family music offerings. It is scheduled for release Friday through Bumblin’ Bee/Little Seeds/SGO.
More information on the album is available along with David Gibb’s latest news at: