Courtesy: Rounder Records/Shoreline Records
Veteran family entertainer Raffi is one of the hardest working (and most respected) figures in the realm of family music. Having more than four decades of experience under his belt and a number of family friendly albums, awards related to said albums and so many other honors, one would think that somewhere along the way, he would take a break. Apparently he doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase, as he will release his next full-length family music album Dog on The Floor this Friday. It will come a little more than a year after he released his “hits” collection The Best of Raffi (February 10, 2017). This 15-song, 33-minute record is everything that audiences and families have come to expect from him, as is evidenced in the variety of its musical arrangements. The equally diverse nature of the lyrical themes is just as familiar and welcome here. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements. Each element plays its own part in making Dog on the Floor another fun family record from Raffi. All things considered, they make the album another surefire addition to any critic’s list of the year’s top new family music albums.
Raffi officially returns this Friday with his latest full-length studio recording, Dog on the Floor. His 30th full-length studio recording and at least his 21st family music release, this record is everything that audiences of all ages have come to love and expect from his works, beginning with the variety in its musical arrangements. From start to end, the album never sticks to just one genre throughout the album. From the folk styling of the album’s opener, ‘The Way it Goes’ to the light, bluesy vibe of ‘Walkin’ My Dog’ to the light, semi-jazzy vibe of ‘Rainbow’ to the surprising reggae vibe of the album’s finale, ‘It Takes A Village’ and beyond, listeners get more than enough variety in the album’s musical arrangements. The genres covered in the noted songs are but a sampling of the musical reach of this record. ‘Fiddle Dance,’ which comes roughly halfway through the album’s run, boasts a bluegrass feel that listeners of all ages will appreciate. There’s even a gentle, flowing cover of The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’ whose folk styling here is most certain to appeal to older audiences just as much – if not more than – their younger counterparts included in the album’s whole. Americana fans even get a tribute of their own in the upbeat ‘Love Grows Love.’ When this and the other songs noted here are considered alongside all the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album’s musical presentation is such that it gives the whole family more than enough to appreciate. It is just one part of what makes this latest offering from Raffi another solid work. The variety in the album’s lyrical themes adds just as much interest to the record as the variety in its musical arrangements.
Just as the record’s musical arrangements vary from start to finish, and in turn offer plenty of interest, so do the record’s lyrical themes. The album’s opener ‘The Way it Goes,’ for instance is just a straight forward, self-explanatory piece that explains that things are the way they are because that’s just the way they are (or rather they it goes). ‘Luna’s Song,’ the album’s second track, is a song about Raffi’s dog. Talk about a quick change of lyrical pace. ‘Play Play Play,’ the record’s third song, is another straight forward, sung from the vantage point of a child show just wants “to play all day long.” The variety doesn’t stop with this trio of songs. Rather, it continues on throughout the record of the record’s nearly 34-minute run with the album’s fourth entry, an old-school Country Western style piece that goes by the name of ‘Listen To The Horses,’ continuing the variety. Raffi’s own take on the traditional song ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ keeps that variety moving as the album makes its way closer to its midpoint. It certainly doesn’t end there, either. From a simple song about Raffi walking his dog — that also jokingly asks is he walking the dog or is the dog walking him? – in ‘Walkin’ My Dog’ to the tribute to America’s Farmers’ Markets in ‘Market Day’ to the upbeat, optimistic message of spreading love worldwide in ‘Love Grows Love’ to the reminder that one person alone can’t raise a child in the album’s closer, ‘It Takes A Village’ and more, the album’s lyrical variety gives listeners just as much to appreciate here as the variety in its musical arrangements. When the variety of the two elements are considered jointly, they give even more reason for audiences to appreciate and enjoy Dog on the Floor. Now, keeping this in mind, that collective variety is still not all that makes Dog on the Floor another standout effort from Raffi. The record’s sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.
Whereas the musical and lyrical content varies randomly throughout the course of Dog on the Floor, the variety in its sequencing is far more planned out. This is evidenced clearly throughout the record’s first half. Tracks 1 – 3 vary stylistically as much as is possible, yet in regards to their energies and tempos, all three are very much the same. ‘Listen to the Horses,’ the record’s fourth song is far more reserved in its energy and tempo thanks to its country western style arrangement. As the record proceeds from that point, so does its energy, rebuilding again right up to the record’s midpoint. The album’s second half sees its energy remain relatively stable right to the end with perhaps the album’s finale being the only exception to that rule. It takes listeners out on a gentle, reggae ride out that is so laid back. What’s interesting is that even with the song’s style presenting a laid back energy, its tempo is still on par with the rest of the songs that make up the remainder of the album’s second half. Again, this shows so much thought and obvious direct planning. That planning ensures from start to end, a record whose energies will certainly keep listeners engaged and by connection, whose arrangements will maintain listeners’ entertainment just as much as their engagement. Keeping this in mind alongside the impact of the said arrangements and the lyrical themes, the whole of Dog on the Floor becomes more proof of why Raffi remains today among the elite in the family music realm.
Raffi’s soon to be released new family music album Dog on the Floor is a quick turnaround for the veteran family entertainer. Even despite it coming along only a little more than a year after the release of The Best of Raffi, this 33-minute, 15-song album doesn’t feel the least bit rushed. Rather, it feels wholly focused, and in turn fully entertaining for the whole family. This is evidenced through the variety in the record’s musical arrangements and lyrical themes. That variety more than certainly keeps listeners of all ages entertained and engaged. The direct thought and focus in the record’s sequencing does just as much to keep listeners engaged and entertained, the thought put into the album’s musical and lyrical variety. That is especially the case considering the directed path that the sequencing takes in the record, unlike its musical and lyrical content. That contrast actually makes the album that much more interesting. In turn, it (again) does so much to keep listeners of all ages engaged and entertained throughout. Keeping that in mind, the record in whole proves to be another solid offering from Raffi that also serves to show why he remains today one of the elite names in the world of family music. It will be available this Friday in stores and online. More information on Dog on the Floor is available online now along with all of his latest news and more at:
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