Courtesy: Coil Records
Summer is officially over, but in many parts of the country, mother nature apparently seems to think otherwise, as temperatures are still reaching close to 90. To that end, thoughts of leaves falling, pumpkin spice and hot apple cider are still quite distant. That makes Fireflies, the latest full-length studio recording from veteran children’s entertainer Mister G (a.k.a. Ben Gundersheimer) a timely release, with its lyrical themes that celebrate summer. Those lyrical themes are just one part of what makes this album another enjoyable offering from the Latin Grammy and four-time Parents’ Choice® Gold Award recipient. The record’s collective musical arrangements will appeal just as much to grown-ups as they will children. This will be discussed a little later on. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements, and will also be discussed later. Each element is key in its own way to the whole of Fireflies. All things considered, they make Fireflies a record that shines just as bright as a firefly’s own light.
Ben Gundersheim’s ninth full-length studio recording Fireflies is a record that is simple, both in its lyrical and musical content. That simplicity makes the record an appealing new effort from the veteran family entertainer. The simple lyrical themes celebrate the joys of summer camp. From the joys of making s’mores at the campfire in the aptly titled ‘S’mores’ to spending time with one’s favorite furry friend (obviously a dog) in ‘Four-Footed Friend’ to the light, bluesy celebration of summer that is ‘Sweet Summertime’ and beyond, this record celebrates the best time of the year in so many ways. Even the album’s opener and title track is its own celebration as it presents that equally simple and beautiful memory of one’s most memorable summer, catching fireflies, going to camp and just being with friends and loved ones. It is a wonderful start to the record, and one more way in which that general theme of summer presents itself here. Of course, for all of the celebrations of summer that are presented here, that overlaying lyrical theme is not the only important theme that is presented. Gundersheimer also tackles the issue of racial equality in the old-school country-style song ‘Together as One’ and learning as one grows in ‘Crawl.’ ‘Big Old World,’ meanwhile, serves as a reminder to the world that mankind must take care of Mother Earth. Mister G’s delivery of that message is just as simple and easy here as is his delivery of his other messages. When one considers this along with the simplicity of the themes themselves, one sees why the record’s musical themes are so important to Fireflies’ whole. That simplicity (and in turn accessibility) is just one part of what makes Fireflies an enjoyable new offering from Mister G. The record’s equally simple musical arrangements do just as much as the lyrical themes to make it enjoyable.
The musical arrangements presented throughout Fireflies are, as noted, just as simple as the record’s lyrical themes. This simplicity adds even more to the album’s accessibility and appeal. From compositions that lend themselves to comparisons to Ben Harper’s best works to more country music-oriented works, all ten arrangements exhibited in this record are simple in their presentations. Case in point is the classic country styling of ‘Together As One.’ The two-chord guitar line and the twang of the steel pedal and violin conjure thoughts of the greatest works from Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and Hank Williams Sr. just to name a few similar acts. This is a styling that is sadly missing in today’s country music world, so it’s nice to hear it featured here. ‘Sweet Summertime,’ with its bluesy arrangement lends itself –to a point – to comparisons to Booker T & The M.G.s’ hit single ‘Green Onions.’ The similarity in the songs is not exact, but a close listen reveals that similarity. Again, each song is so simple in its approach, and because of that simplicity, find themselves appealing to plenty of audiences. That simplicity is just as evident in the arrangement of ‘Crawl’ as in ‘Sweet Summertime’ and ‘Together As One.’ This is one of those songs that lends itself to comparisons to Ben Harper’s best works. Anyone familiar with Harper’s work will agree. To say that this is a good thing is an understatement. It’s not the last of the simple arrangements presented across the record. The seven other songs not noted here are just as simple as the works discussed here. Keeping that in mind, the overall simplicity in the album’s arrangements goes a long way toward Fireflies’ overall presentation. When it is considered along with the simplicity in the album’s lyrical themes, the two elements collectively do plenty to make the record enjoyable for every listener. While the simplicity of the album’s collective lyrical and musical content goes a long way toward making it enjoyable for listeners of all ages, that simplicity is not all that makes the record so widely appealing. Its sequencing offers its own share of interest for listeners.
From start to end, Fireflies’ sequencing proves just as crucial to its presentation as the simplicity in its music and lyrics because of the balance in the songs’ energies. The record starts off slow and gentle in its title track before barely increasing the energy exuded in that song in the next two songs, ‘Sweet Summertime’ and ‘Me And You.’ The record’s energy picks up just a little bit more in the classic country-style ‘Big Old World’ before pulling back immediately afterward in ‘Four-Footed Friend.’ That gentility lasts only briefly through that song and ‘Crawl’ before it picks back up again ever so slightly in ‘Together As One.’ The album’s energy pulls back again to that familiar laid back, Ben Harper-esque vibe from there as the album gently makes its way to its finale. Simply put, from beginning to end, the energy in the record’s presentation never gets too much or too little at any given point. Rather, it is expertly balanced all the way through. When the time and thought put into keeping the record’s energy stable from beginning to end is considered along with the impact of the simplicity in the album’s music and lyrics, the whole proves to be a record that shines just as bright as a firefly.
Mister G’s ninth full-length studio recording Fireflies is a shining new offering from the veteran family entertainer. This is due in part to the simplicity in its musical and lyrical content. That simplicity makes the record an accessible offering for the whole family, as has been noted already. The time and thought put into the album’s sequencing puts the final touch to its presentation. Each element is key in its own way to the whole of the record, as has been proven in the previous discussions. All things considered, they make Fireflies a record that is its own bright, shining offering from Mister G. It is available now. More information on Fireflies is available online now along with all of Mister G’s latest news and more at:
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