The wait is officially over for family music act Red Yarn’s new album. Red Yarn (a.k.a. Andy Furgeson) is scheduled to release his new album Backyard Bop Friday through his own independent label Red Yarn Productions. The 12-song album – his sixth album – is yet another presentation that the whole family will enjoy. That is due to its musical and lyrical content, each of which will receive its own attention in examining the album. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be addressed. All three noted items are important in their own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make Backyard Bop yet another successful offering from Red Yarn that is also an easy contender for its own spot on this year’s list of new family music albums.
Red Yarn’s sixth full-length studio recording Backyard Bop is a fun musical celebration that listeners of all ages will enjoy. That is thanks in part to the record’s collective musical arrangements. The album continues to present the country music sounds exhibited in his 2018 album Old Barn, but adds more to the mix this time out. The up-tempo, guitar-driven arrangement at the center of the album’s opener is one of those songs that shows that growth. It throws back to the rockabilly sounds that were so popular during the 1950s with that guitar line, and equally infectious piano line. The whole lends itself to comparisons to works from the likes of Chuck Berry, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis. ‘Jump For Joy,’ the album’s second song, continues the noted Americana/rockabilly sense with its guitar-centered arrangement. What’s interesting here is that the arrangement is more of a modern sound, though the vintage influence is just as audible. ‘Lazy Tonight,’ the album’s midpoint entry, immediately lends itself to a comparison to works from the late great Dr. John through its laid back Cajun-infused arrangement. The use of the organ (likely a Hammond organ) and the drums builds the arrangement’s foundation. It’s just one more enjoyable way in which this album’s musical side shows the noted growth this time out. Keeping its impact in mind along with that of the other songs noted here and those in the rest of the album’s arrangements, the musical side of Red Yarn’s new album proves to be its own clear positive to the record. It is just one of the album’s most notable elements. The album’s lyrical themes add their own share of appeal to the LP’s presentation.
The lyrical themes that are featured throughout Backyard Bop are even more varied than the album’s musical arrangements. From approaching the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic in ‘My Own Backyard’ and ‘Outside My Window’ to promoting community involvement and unity in ‘Town Hall’ to celebrating the joy of community and play in ‘Neighborhood Park’ and more, the lyrical themes featured throughout this album offer plenty for listeners to appreciate. Considering the impact of the COVID-19 impact on people’s mental health, the noted songs are crucial additions to the album. Furgeson sings in ‘Outside My Window’ about the pleasures of just watching nature and of being with one’s loved ones. He never comes out and directly mentions the virus, but it has previously been stated that the song does focus on the topic. That the song is about the virus, but never comes out and makes mention of the matter makes it all the more appealing. In the same vein, ‘My Own Backyard’ encourages kids to go outside and use their imaginations as they play in their own backyards. Once again, Furgeson never comes out and makes any mention of COVID-19, which is wonderful. That lack of mention means that children won’t have to think about it. Rather, they will think he is just promoting a familiar topic – that of play and using one’s imagination. Furgeson and his fellow musicians are to be highly commended again for taking this approach.
On a slightly similar note, the lyrical theme at the center of ‘Lazy Tonight’ will uplift listeners of all ages in its own right. This song is about the joy of just having a movie night in, rather than going out and spending money at the theater. He sings about watching a movie, enjoying snacks like candy and cookies, and putting off responsibilities until the next day. The lighthearted lyrics work with the song’s equally relaxed musical arrangement to make the song that much more enjoyable for the whole family. It also serves to show why the song’s lyrical content is another prime example of the importance of the album’s lyrical content, but certainly not the last. ‘Town Hall Meeting’ is one more example of that importance.
‘Town Hall Meeting’ is set against the backdrop of, as the title notes, a town hall meeting. The citizens are there as are town officials of an unnamed town. Everybody has a concern to voice, but it is all done politely. He even sings, “You can have your own opinion/Just let me have mine/It ain’t always ‘bout winnin’/But it’s all about tryin’, yeah/So keep on trying ya’ll.” He stresses in the song’s final lines, “We may be disagreein’/But our hearts are beating/At the town hall meeting.” Simply put, this is a song that encourages people to try to be kind even despite our different views on things. Considering that so much discussion at meetings (and online) has become little more than a war of words with, this is a message that adults need just as much as children if not more so. Considering that here is another example of who this album will connect with grown-ups just as much as children. When it is considered with the other lyrical themes discussed here and the rest of the album’s lyrical themes, that aspect of the album in whole proves why the album’s lyrical content is just as important as its musical content.
The overall content featured in Red Yarn’s new album is undeniably important separately and collectively. That has already been pointed out here. For all that the overall content does for the album’s presentation, it is just one overall part of what makes the album work as well as it does. Its sequencing rounds out its most important elements. As has already been noted, Backyard Bop opens on an energetic note in its rockabilly style opener/title track. Throughout the course of its 38-minute run time, the album rises and falls at all of the right points in terms of its energy. The record’s first four songs exhibit a relatively stable energy. ‘Outside My Window’ and ‘Lazy Tonight’ serve well in breaking up the album, keeping things interesting before giving way to the more slightly up-tempo ‘Critters in my Garden.’ The record pulls back again immediately after in ‘Around This Town.’ The ups and downs continue from that point before finishing out gently in ‘Someone To Love.’ The end result of all of the clearly thought out changes in the album’s energy is a presentation that succeeds just as much for this aspect as for its overall content. When all three elements are considered together ,the end result is an overall presentation that earns its own place among the year’s top new family music albums just as much as the year’s other top albums in said genre.
Red Yarn’s sixth full-length studio recording is yet another success for the seasoned family entertainer. That is proven in part through its musical arrangements. The arrangements build on those featured in the album’s predecessor, Old Barn, giving listeners a little of what is in that album while also presenting something more unique. The album’s lyrical themes are even more diverse than its musical arrangements. They cover topics, such as community engagement and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in a way that is accessible to children and adults alike. Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make this record another positive offering from Red Yarn and another candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new family music albums.
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