Family entertainer Alastair Moock released his latest full-length studio recording April 3, and the 15-song record – Be A Pain — could not have come at a more important time in America’s history. This nation is going through a period of great upheaval, and it is scary to think where it is headed just as much for adults as it is for children. Thankfully, Moock is trying to help keep the future from being too bleak through his new album through its lyrical content. That content will be addressed shortly. The musical arrangements that accompany that content will appeal to adults just as much as it will to children, if not more so. It will be addressed a little later. The record’s sequencing joins with its content to make the album whole and wholly memorable. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the overall presentation of Be A Pain. All things considered, they make this album one of this year’s best and most important family music albums.
Alastair Moock’s latest full-length studio recording Be A Pain is one of the best of this year’s field of new family music albums. It is also one of the most important family music albums to come along in a while due to the age in which is has been released. This record encourages the world’s youth, through its lyrical content, to step up and not be afraid to rattle some cages. That lyrical content additionally encourages young people to shoot for the stars. Moock and company mince no words in the album’s opener and its title track – ‘What Is A Leader?’ and ‘Be A Pain’ respectively – as to the noted statements. Children are featured in the album’s opener explaining in their own innocent yet thoughtful words, what they believe makes a leader. Even coming “from the mouths of babes,” the statements speak volumes. That is because they show that young people have more grasp on certain subjects than we as adults give them credit for. ‘Be A Pain’ encourages listeners to not be afraid to stand up and speak their minds. This is such an important thing to tell young people, especially when educators and others are essentially telling young people daily that they should conform rather than think for themselves. Moock is doing the exact opposite of those individuals, telling young people that it is okay to think for themselves and speak out when they see wrong being committed. ‘No Wall’ takes on Donald Trump’s embattled border wall at the U.S. – Mexico border by reminding listeners that “there is no wall between you and me.” He is joined by Sol y Canto and Alisa Amador for the song, whose clear metaphorical language – some of which is even sung in Spanish – promotes unity rather than separation. It is yet another powerful protest song that will appeal just as much to adults as it will to younger listeners. It is a work that harkens back to work from the likes of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and other similar acts, and does such a wonderful job echoing their messages in the process. It’s just one more way in which the lyrical content featured in this record proves so important, and is certainly not the last key example of what makes that content so important to address. ‘Get To Work,’ ‘What We Tell Our Children’ and ‘Lead With Love’ could also be used to highlight the importance of the album’s lyrical content, as could any of the album’s other songs. Keeping all of that in mind, there is no doubt left at this point, that the album’s lyrical content is pivotal to its presentation. It forms a fully solid foundation to the record that is strengthened even more by its accompanying musical arrangements.
The musical arrangements featured throughout the course of Be A Pain’s 51-minute run time are works that will appeal to fans of country, bluegrass and Americana. This is important to note because for all intents and purposes, Be A Pain is a protest record that will appeal to the whole family. Famed protest performers, such as Dylan and Seeger were themselves known for performing exactly that same kind of music for their songs. To that end, what Moock is essentially doing here is paying tribute to those and other well-known acts of the 1960s and 70s who rose to fame through their protest songs. The old school country arrangement at the heart of the album’s title track is among the most notable of the musical arrangements. Its twang and the twang in Moock’s vocal delivery style couple to make the song stand out so strongly. Moock even diretly pays tribute to Seeger in the song ‘Go Pete Go.’ He uses the same style arrangement that Seeger used in his works while also pointing out all that Seeger did during the course of his life and career. That banjo-driven arrangement is yet another work that is certain to appeal widely to listeners of all ages. The Americana/country hybrid approach to ‘Kids Can Do Great Things’ is yet another way in which the album’s musical proves so important. It is a simple approach, and because it is so easy, it is so accessible. Audiences get Moock here along with a guitar and what sounds like a cajon drum. The instrumentation and the arrangement together are so simple and accessible that they are collectively easy on the ears. It’s just one more way in which the musical arrangements featured in Be A Pain prove to be just as important as its companion lyrical content. When the two are considered together, the whole of that content proves more than enough to make this record worth hearing. Keeping this in mind, the album’s overall content is not its only important content. Its sequencing rounds out its most important elements.
The sequencing of Be A Pain is important to note because it does just as much to ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment as does the album’s content. The album starts strong on a solid mid-tempo note in ‘What Is A Leader.’ The energy established in that song carries over into ‘Be A Pain’ with that song’s classic country style arrangement. Moock pulls back the energy quite noticeably as the album transitions into ‘Everybody Was a Kid’ while also reminding in its own solid way that we as adults need to remember we were young once, too. The record’s energy picks back up as it moves into ‘Get To Work,’ and continues into ‘Go Pete Go.’ The energy pulls back again, albeit slightly in ‘One Foot / Lead With Love,’ with is for all intents and purposes a simple yet damning indictment of Donald Trump’s poor leadership. The song’s arrangement is a bluesy-mid tempo work that only pulls back the energy because the style here is so different from much of the rest of the album’s work. To that end, it still actually keeps the record’s energy solid. ‘No Wall’ slows things down again before giving way to the more upbeat ‘I Am Malala.’ From that point on, the album’s mood and energy becomes increasingly laid back and reserved right to the album’s end. That gradual change does not go unnoticed, and is good in its own right to the whole of this record. When it is considered along with the rest of the crests and troughs presented throughout the record, the whole of the record’s sequencing shows great time and thought was put into making sure the album’s energy did not just stay one way throughout or too long. It changes just enough in terms of levels and in terms of times to ensure listeners will remain engaged. When this is considered along with the value of the album’s overall content, the album’s appeal becomes that much clearer, leaving no doubt as to why the album is such a positive and important presentation among this year’s new family music offerings.
Alastair Moock & Friends’ new album Be A Pain is a powerful new offering the stands head and shoulders above this year’s crop of new family music albums. That is due in part to its lyrical content, which encourages listeners of all ages to stand up and do the right thing. It also encourages young people to make the best of themselves and their lives over the course of its 15-song, 51-minute body. The inspiring songs are modern protest songs that also serve to inspire listeners to be their best and make the most of their lives. The musical arrangements that accompany the accessible and moving lyrical content is in itself a throwback to the music that was used in so many classic protest music. In other words, this record stays true to its influences musically as well as lyrically. The album’s sequencing does just as much to ensure listeners’ engagement as the album’s content, by rising and falling at all of the right points throughout. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this record. Collectively, they make Be A Pain the best of this year’s new family music albums so far. It is available now through Moockshake Music. More information on the album is available along with all of Alastair Moock’s latest news at:
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