Over the course of the past 14 years, kindie-folk act Hullabaloo has built quite the reputation for itself with its unique brand of music. Founded by musician Steve Denyes, the San Diego, California-based outfit has established a positive reputation for itself over that time. Late this past March, Hullabaloo strengthened that reputation even more when it released its latest album 20 Songs in 20 Days. Its 14th new album, this 20 song record takes Hullabaloo’s trademark folk sound and couples it with 20 different lyrical themes – from serious to downright silly — to make a record that keeps listeners of all ages entertained from start to end. ‘Kicking Up Dust,’ which comes just past the album’s halfway point, is just one of the album’s entries that serves to support that statement. It will be discussed shortly. ‘My Trip To Paris’ supports that statement in its own unique way, too. It will be discussed later. ‘She’s Not Just My Sister’ is one more song that supports the noted statement, and will be discussed later, too. These songs are hardly the one additions to the 20 Songs in 20 Days that serve to show what makes the album enjoyable for its intended audiences. It would be just as easy to cite the likes of ‘Help! A Snake Is Going To Eat Me,’ ‘Best Day of Fishing’ and ‘Supermoon’ and any of the album’s other entries to support the noted statement, too. All things considered, 20 Songs in 20 days is a record that will entertain audiences for 20 days and beyond.
Veteran kindie-folk act Hullabaloo’s latest album 20 Songs in 20 Days is a record that is just as certain to entertain folk music aficionados as it is the group’s own fans. It is a work that will entertain said audiences for 20 days and beyond. That is evidenced in part through the country/folk style opus ‘Kicking Up Dust.’ The simple, acoustic arrangement boasts influences from the likes of Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and others along those lines. Keeping that in mind, its arrangement is such that it will definitely appeal to certain older audiences, not just children. Its lyrical content is just as certain to appeal to older listeners as younger, too. That is because the song comes across as a tribute to America’s farmers who wake up before the first rays of light (and work through the day) just so that Americans can have the food that we eat. This is evidenced as Denyes sings, “Welll I’m up every morning in my work clothes/About an hour and a half before the rooster crows/Nobody’s awake, but my old dog Jake and me/Well I can’t wait around for the rest of my pack/The sleepy heads will just hold me back/I’m a man with a plan and I got places to be/I’m kicking up dust/I’m breaking new ground/I’m getting things done/When you’re lying around/I’m kicking up dust/I’m leaving now/I got rows to how and fields to plow.” He goes on to say in the song’s second verse (he actually delivers the song’s lyrics in a very spoken word style, adding to the song’s interest), “Well right about noon I’ll stop for lunch/But I don’t sit down with the rest of the bunch/And there’s just no way that I’m gonna stay for dessert/I get right back to work when my belly’s full/I got crops to tend, I got weeds to pull/I got a whole bag of seeds that need to be in the dirt/I’m kicking up dist/I’m breaking new ground/I’m getting things done/When you’re lying around/I’m kicking up dust/I’m leaving now/I got rows to hoe and fields to plow.” The song’s third and final verse is relatively short. It sees the song’s subject telling listeners about dreaming about working the fields even as he sleeps. Even at day’s end, the farmer is still working the fields, just in his own mind. Again, it’s a strong statement that continues to pay tribute to what farmers nationwide do and all that they are. Given, there are country music songs spread across the mainstream country music realm about farmers and farming, but none are delivered in the fashion in which this song does lyrically. Keeping that in mind, that lyrical approach (and vocal delivery style) add to the song’s originality. When joined with the song’s catchy musical arrangement, they make the song in whole a clear example of what makes 20 Songs in 20 Days such an enjoyable offering from Hullabaloo. It is just one of the songs that serves to support that statement. My Trip To Paris’ also supports that statement.
‘My Trip To Paris’ is a fun, silly song about Denyes taking a trip to Paris and the laughs brought by his inability to speak French. He sings (in that near spoken word style again) about saying to someone, “Hello, good sir/I’d like some cheese with a nice ocean view/Good night pretty bird/I’m gonna steal all your feathers from you.” Denye even says jokingly, “you know, I think something must be lost in translation. Let’s go back to French.” His translation actually did not get lost as he joking says. The closest translation of the song, which says, “bonjour monsieur. fromage a la plage S’il vous plaît. bonsoir. Avoir. alouette je te plumerai” is in fact “Hello sir. cheese at the beach Please. Good evening. To have. Lark, I will pluck you.” To that end, Denye’s translation is not far off, and definitely makes for its own share of laughs. It’s like he got a certain children’s song – which now translated seems kind of violent as it is about someone plucking feathers from a bird’s body, head to foot – and crosses that with a bunch of nonsense about eating cheese on the beach. To a certain extent, it’s a certain self-deprecating humor about Denye’s inability to communicate with the French. On another level, one could also argue here that Denye is using this light-hearted experience as an anecdote to explain the importance of multiculturalism. That might be a bit of a stretch, but it is this critic’s own interpretation. That aside, this song is another addition to this album that is certain to stick in listeners’ heads. To that end, it becomes another clear example of what makes the album in whole such a surprisingly enjoyable album. It still is not the last of the album’s key entries. ‘She’s Not Just My Sister’ is another key addition to the album.
‘She’s Not Just My Sister’ is pivotal to the album’s whole because of its timeliness. Considering who (and what) is running this country right now – and what with the MeToo movement still going on – this song comes along at a key moment. It presents the song’s subject as a strong candidate for the highest office in the land, having won 99 percent of the nation’s votes in a hypothetical election. The song’s subject even goes so far as to say that the one percent who didn’t vote for her would still come to love her. One a deeper level, that one percent could be Denye taking a subtle, veiled swipe at the “one percent” who have been addressed in so many protests in the past year or so. This is all set against a decidedly Pete Seeger style musical arrangement. That aside, the song serves as a reminder that women can do anything that men can do, an important, empowering message that is always needed and welcome. When this serious message is considered along with the more light-hearted fun of ‘My Trip To Paris,’ the moving tribute to America’s farmers and all of the other mix of silly and serious songs included here, the end result is an album that once again, proves appealing to listeners of all ages. That wide-ranging appeal, both musically and lyrically, proves the album to be a viable candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family albums.
Hullabaloo’s 14th full-length studio recording 20 songs in 20 Days is another enjoyable effort that proves this kindie-folk act has hardly lost its step over the course of its life. That is evidenced partially through arrangements that will appeal just as much to grown up fans of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and other similar performers as it will to younger listeners. The album’s lyrical content, in its own way, will reach just as wide a range of listeners, as has been explained here. Both elements are equally important in each of the album’s…well…20 songs. When they are considered from start to end, they prove the album to be a record that audiences will enjoy for 20 days and beyond. It is available now. More information on 20 Songs in 20 Days is available online now along with all of Hullabaloo’s latest news and more at:
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