The genre that is family music is one that has always stood out from the rest other genres that make up the musical universe. That is because by and large the music that fills that space is constantly so diverse even as the lyrical themes in so many songs are largely the same. Even being so much the same from one song to the next, the themes are important because they promote individuality, self-confidence, creativity, and so many other items that are key not only for personal growth and development in younger people, but for continued development in older audiences. To that end, those themes are just as accessible for younger listeners as for their more seasoned counterparts. In the same vein, the diversity in the genre’s musical content is just as enjoyable if not more so. That is because honestly, more often than not, it is more diverse than in so much mainstream music for older audiences. At the same time, it will again, more often than not, appeal to such a wide range of audiences. Keeping all of this in mind, the world of family music really is just as deserving of having its own list of top new albums as any other genre, and that is why this critic has continued to present exactly that for so many years.
This year is no different from past years, either. This year was another successful one in the family music world. New albums from veterans, such as Laurie Berkner, Koo Koo Kanga Roo, and Lucky Diaz & The Family Jam Band joined new records from up-and-comers, such as Ben Tatar & The Tatar Tots, Twinkle, and Stacey Peasley among many other established acts. All in all, this year’s field of new family music albums represented the present and future of the genre very nicely, as today’s list will show.
Keeping in mind everything noted about the importance of the content in every family music record, developing a list of the year’s top new albums in the genre is never easy. This critic tried, though. The result of those efforts is this critic’s view of the year’s top 10 best family music albums and five additional honorable mentions, for a total of 15 new offerings. So without any further ado, here for your consideration is Phil’s Picks 2021 Top 10 New Family Music Albums.
PHIL’S PICKS 2021 TOP 10 NEW FAMILY MUSIC ALBUMS
Koo Koo Kanga Roo – Slow Clap
The Story Pirates – The Strawberry Band
Sarah Watkins – Under The Pepper Tree
The Bright Siders – A Mind of Your Own
Lucky Diaz & The Family Jam Band—Crayon Kids
Laurie Berkner – Let’s Go
Twinkle – It’s OK To Be Me
Gordie “Crazylegs” MacKeeman – Folk For Little Folk Vol. 1
Tracy Bonham – Young Maestros Vol. 1
Genevieve Goings – Great Indoors
Tunes With Tim – We’re All Human
Stacey Peasley – Make It Happen
Jenn Cleary – All Together Now
Kelli Welli – Let’s Go Pistachio
Ben Tatar & The Tatar Tots – Seconds
That’s all for this year’s list of top new family music albums. The new year is just around and the corner and no doubt, lots of new family music is coming with the new year, too.
Messages of confidence, empowerment, and positivity are key for everyone in our daily lives. For children, those messages are especially important. That is because our childhood years are those most important formative years. Those years determine at least in part the people that we grow into. As such, award-winning family music entertainer Stacey Peasley has crafted a whole album’s worth of those messages in her new album Make It Happen! Those messages form the foundation of her record, which is scheduled for release Friday. They will be addressed shortly. The musical arrangements that accompany the album’s hugely important positive lyrical messages play their own part in this record’s overall presentation. They will be discussed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements. It will also be addressed later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this record. All things considered, they make the album in whole a positive new offering from the veteran family entertainer.
Family entertainer Stacey Peasley’s latest album Make It Happen! — her fifth — is a solid new presentation from the veteran singer-songwriter that will appeal to a wide range of audiences. That is due in part to its overall lyrical themes. The themes follow one central topic, that of empowerment and self-confidence. The matter is handled through a variety of means throughout the album’s 28-minute run time. ‘What Girls Do’ is among the most notable of the album’s entries that takes on the topic. It reminds young women that they can do anything. Considering that the gender gap still exists in the workplace, including even in pay, and that there are still those who believe in specific set gender roles, this song’s lyrical content is as welcome and needed as any other discussion on female empowerment. ‘Play the Game’ addresses self-confidence and empowerment in another way, this time doing so by putting the messages into a song about sports. Peasley sings here, “So much heart and soul/Letting it all out/Waited for this day/Never an doubt/unified and strong/Leaders of the pack/Now it’s time to shine/Never holding back/I am ready to play the game.” The message is clear. Despite the nerves that can take hold even in such a situation, a person just needs to have confidence. It reminds young listeners that it is okay to have that confidence. ‘Swimming Pool’ takes the album’s central lyrical theme in another direction, encouraging children to not be afraid of what is an otherwise very scary moment. It presents a positive message for children to recite to encourage excitement about the new experience rather than fear. As if all of this is not enough, a song, such as ‘Happy Tears’ lets young listeners know that it is okay to express their emotions, even if those emotions might be saccharine sweet. This is another issue, which America must overcome – the stigma of expressing emotions by certain groups. Peasley reminds listeners here that it is okay for anyone to do something like crying happy tears and show affection. It is one more way in which the album’s lyrical content proves its importance.
Of course while that central theme of self confidence and empowerment does run through much of this record’s lyrical content, Peasley also offers other equally accessible themes and topics. Case in point is ‘Choo Choo.’ The song is exactly what it sounds like; a song about taking a ride on a train. ‘At the Parade on yet another note simply celebrates the joy of communing with others at a parade. ‘Goodie Bag’ is yet another example of how Peasley expands echoes the excitement and anticipation of getting a bag of…well…goodies at a party. Between these more relaxed songs and the overarching theme that is presented throughout the record, the whole makes the album’s lyrical content unquestionably strong foundation for this album. Building on the strength of the album’s lyrical content is its musical arrangements.
The musical arrangements that are featured throughout Make It Happen! are even more diverse than its lyrical content. From start to end of the 10-song record, audiences are treated to a wide array of musical styles. The album’s opener/title track launches the album with a mainstream pop style arrangement, before giving way to a more familiar kindie rock approach in its follow-up, ‘Boo Boo.’ The changes continue from there on to the album’s end. For instance, ‘Goodie Bag’ brings in a touch of vintage ska while ‘Swimming Pool’ pulls influence from the likes of Jimmy Buffett in its musical arrangement. On yet another note (no pun intended) ‘Choo Choo’ lends itself to comparisons to Tina Turner’s hit song ‘Rollin on the River.’ That is just this critic’s interpretation. Other listeners might hear more of the piano-driven Americana style. That would be a right interpretation, too. Simply put, from one song to the next, Peasley’s new album offers listeners constant stylistic change, which in itself, ensures listeners’ engagement. That constant change, together with the equally engaging and entertaining lyrical content, make the record’s presentation even more positive. The overall content is not the last of the album’s most notable elements. The sequencing thereof puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation.
The sequencing of Peasley’s new album is important to note because it ensures that the record’s overall content avoids any monotony. That applies in regards to not just the content, which contains its own variety, but to the energies within the songs. From the album’s opener to its midpoint, the album’s energy remains relatively upbeat and stable. However, as the record progresses from that point through its next three songs, the energy gradually declines, becoming more reserved in nature. The last two songs pick the energy back up once more, taking audiences back to the levels at which the album started. This is important to note because it shows that a clear, deliberate approach to the album’s sequencing. It almost makes the album a sort of three-movement presentation. First is the higher energy (the “A”) section, and then following that is the “B” section with the more reserved energies. The “A” section returns in the album’s last two songs, even though the musical arrangements are distinctly different than those in the album’s lead “movement.” It really makes for an interesting approach to the sequencing. That approach, coupled with the album’s overall content, makes the record in whole a presentation that holds its own against this year’s current field of new family music albums.
Stacey Peasley’s new album Make It Happen! is a positive new presentation that listeners of all ages will enjoy. That is proven in part through its lyrical content. The lyrical content promotes self-confidence and empowerment, as well as just general fun. The themes vary throughout the album, keeping things interesting just in this aspect. The musical arrangements that accompany the album’s lyrical content adds its own appeal. That is because it is even more diverse than the album’s lyrical themes. There is vintage ska, there is some kindie pop, country, and even some R&B influence among the many stylistic approaches here. The sequencing of the album’s content puts the finishing touch to the album’s presentation. It ensures the noted variance in the album’s content while also presenting a very specific approach to the record’s body in regards to the energies in the songs’ arrangements. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record. All things considered, they make the album a presentation that holds its own against this year’s current field of new family music albums. Make It Happen! is scheduled for release Friday.
More information on Stacey Peasley’s new album is available along with all of her latest news at:
Children’s entertainer Stacey Peasley recently released her sophomore full-length album Lucky Day to the masses. That album proved to audiences why given the chance, Peasley could be one of the next big names in the world of kindie-rock. Peasley’s 2011 debut Together is just as good as that album if not actually better than Lucky Day. Together is anchored by Peasley’s funky, celebratory ‘Dance Party.’ The song harkens back to the days of Kool and the Gang, KC and the Sunshine Band, and Sly and the Family Stone just to name a few groups. ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ is an equally up-tempo piece that boasts a poppy 90s vibe. And while hardly the longest song, its equally upbeat, optimistic lyrics will put a smile on the face of listeners of all ages. Rounding out the whole album is a sweet, lullaby of sorts in the song ‘Snuggle Daddy.’ After all of the fun of the album’s previous group of songs, this song is a fitting closer. It’s one of those songs that some parents might even find a guilty pleasure as it will make them think of their own children when they’re at school or asleep in their beds. It might even bring a small tear of joy to some parents’ eyes. And that’s perfectly fine, too. That’s because it is just that wonderful of a song. Of course it and the other songs noted here are not all that families will appreciate about Together. There is also a fun little song about bath time simply titled ‘Soapy Bubbles’ and a bittersweet and somewhat heart wrenching song about a child in a broken family titled ‘Far Away.’ This song is especially interesting considering that so few kindie-rock entertainers delve into that topic. It is a tough song to hear. That song alongside the others featured as part of Together make this record quite the impressive first effort from Stacey Peasley.
Together is a wonderful first effort from Stacey Peasley. From beginning to end, every one of the album’s offerings make the album a joy to hear in its own way. The album is anchored most strongly by the funky and fittingly titled ‘Dance Party.’ This song will have parents, children, and even grandparents dancing and smiling, well, together. Musically, the song harkens back to the days of musical greats such as KC and the Sunshine Band, Sly and the Family Stone, and even Kool and the Gang with its mix of horns, keyboards, drums and easygoing guitars. Peasley herself even seems to channel some of the great vocalists of days gone by as she sings, “Come on everybody/We’ve got dancin’ to do/There’ll be no sittin’ down/We’ve got to get up and move/Listen to the instruments play their tune/They can play all day/Your imagination is all you need/Grab a microphone and you can take the lead/Go ask your mom and dad/And you know they’ll be glad/They’ll spend the day with you/Put on your dancing shoes/And have a dance party.” It would be so easy to see this song in a live setting. Both kids and grown-ups will be dancing and singing along so happily, the lights on the stage flashing in time with the band. And even a music video in the same vein would make sense. It’s just a fun, infectious song that will instantly get stuck in listeners’ heads and on their lips. It’s just one of the songs that make Together such a fun album for the whole family.
While it boasts a slightly different sound than ‘Dance Party,’ Together’s penultimate song ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ is just as fun and memorable a song. Whereas ‘Dance Party’ was more of a throwback to the great names of funk, ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ boasts more of a poppy 90s vibe. The mix of the song’s piano line, guitar, and tambourine backed by Marty Beller’s drumming by itself makes the song so infectious. Lyrically, Peasley perfectly captures the joys of childhood friendship as she sings, “When my friends and I get together/We always have a really good time/We laugh and play/And spend the day/With one thing on our mind/We have fun, fun, fun/As long as we can/When we get together/The day never ends/Fun, fun, fun/Until the sun sets/You’re my best friend/Til’ the very end.” Kids will relate to these words just as much as parents to these words. For kids, it celebrates the joys that they are currently feeling as they develop friendships and learn about the joys of having that social circle and those relationships. For parents, it will take them back to their own childhoods. What better way to get rid of the stresses of the work week than reminisce about better times? Kudos to Stacey Peasley for that.
‘Dance Party’ and ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ are two great examples of what makes Together an album that every family will in fact enjoy listening to together, thus the album’s title. The album’s gentle closer ‘Snuggle Daddy’ is one more example of what makes this album so enjoyable for families. It would be a surprise if this song doesn’t put a smile on a parent’s face and a slight tear of joy in said parent’s eye. Peasley sings of the joys felt by a young child spending those all-important minutes before bed with his or her father. What really makes this song great isn’t just the song’s gentle musical side or even its lyrical side, but the fact that it could come from the angle of a young boy or girl. The song’s gentle, almost sleepy vibe is a perfect complement to the lyrics. Peasley sings from the vantage point of the child, “AFtermy bath/Before I go to bed/I like to lay close/And rest my head/On my daddy/Snuggle daddy/Sometimes we hide/So mommy can’t see/Under the blankets/It’s just me and my daddy.” She goes on to sing of the child happily reading a bedtime story and more before heading off to dreamland. It’s such a short song. Yet it is so emotionally powerful. Being such a powerful piece, it is a wonderful finale from Peasley on her debut. And alongside the likes of ‘Dance Party’ and ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ it makes even clearer why any parent should listen to this record. It will bring such joy to not only children but parents, too.
The songs noted here are three fine examples of what makes Together such a standout release from Stacey Peasley. Especially being an independent release it is a surprise that none of the major children’s music labels picked her up. Perhaps after hearing the noted songs, those same labels will give her more of a chance. The same can be said of the heart wrenching ‘Far Away’ and the fun bath time song ‘Soapy Bubbles’ ‘Far Away’ comes across as delving into the difficult topic of a young child being stuck between two divorced parents. That’s a tough topic for kids, which is why so few children’s entertainers tackle the subject in their music. Mrs. Peasley is to be highly commended for such bravery. And on the totally opposite side of things is the much more lighthearted bath time song ‘Soapy Bubbles.’ This fun little romp is sure to put just as much of a smile on the face of any listener regardless of age. Peasley sings of the joys a child feels playing with bubbles in the bathtub. What parent can’t relate? This parent certainly can, watching his own son’s eyes glimmer with joy as he blows them around the tub. It’s just a fun song. And it’s one more addition to an album that while it has been out for a few years is still just as good as any album that has been released this year. As a matter of fact, had it been released this year, it might have even made this critic’s list of the year’s top new children’s albums.
Audiences will get a chance to hear all of the songs noted here and even more later this year when Stacey Peasley performs live at the Long Island Children’s Museum Show. That concert is scheduled for Saturday, December 27th at 11am. It is an all-ages show. To get more information on this show, more upcoming dates, and to keep up with all of the latest updates from Stacey Peasley, audiences can follow her online at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Stacey-Peasley-Band/60359963730 and http://www.staceypeasley.com. Fans can also order both of her current releases through her official website. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.
Independent children’s entertainer Stacey Peasley recently released her sophomore album. The aptly titled Lucky Day could be good luck for Peasley as it has proven her potential as a viable commodity in the world of “kindie-rock.” The songs on this album—Peasley’s second full length release—offers plenty of material for listeners of all ages. And it all starts with the album’s opener ‘Little Soccer Player.’ While not even two minutes in length, the song paints a picture so vivid that it just begs for a music video. The album’s midway point, ‘Broken Record’ is a song that speaks both to children and adults equally. And the homage to vinyl records by guest star Mista Cookie Jar adds a certain extra touch to the song that parents especially will enjoy. Being that most of the country is caught in the grips of the summer heat, the album’s closer ‘Summer Day’ is just as much a welcome addition to Lucky Day as ‘Broken Record’ and ‘Little Soccer Player.’ These three songs are but samples of what makes Lucky Day a worthwhile listen for parents and children alike. The album’s remaining songs not noted here each have their own enjoyment. And families will find their own songs to enjoy when they order Lucky Day for themselves. They will find in listening to this album that Lucky Day will make their day.
The timing of Lucky Day’s release could not have been any better for this independent “kindie-rock” band. This is especially the case considering the album’s opener. The 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament just finished up. But thanks to this album’s opener, parents everywhere can keep a young person’s love of and interest in soccer alive even with the media hype dying down for the next four years. The song paints a wonderfully vivid picture of a parent on the sidelines of a youth soccer game cheering on his or her child. That the parent in question could be a father or mother makes the song even better. The parent sings to the child, “Little soccer player/In the morning sun/Time for early wake-ups/The season has begun/Little soccer player/See you on the field/Focused and determined/Skills will be revealed/And all the mommies/Have their coffee/They cheer really loud/And all the daddies clap so hard/Cause they are really proud to see you run so fast/Take a shot/Make a pass/Give it all you’ve got.’ The parent goes on to sing about the child practicing so proudly, his sister cheering, too on the sidelines. As the song nears its end, the band gradually increases the song’s tempo until it finally reaches its ultimate climax. The interesting thing is that on one hand, that closing could be just as easily left in the air as it could be solidified. The picture is so vivid that it makes perfect fodder for a music video. That increased pace in the song’s final moments would be the young soccer player running to the goal in preparation of kicking the ball. That combination of music and lyrics in this piece work together to make ‘Little Soccer Player’ the perfect opener for Lucky Day and the perfect introduction for anyone that might be new to The Stacey Peasley Band’s music.
‘Little Soccer Player’ is a wonderful opener for Stacey Peasley’s new album and an equally impressive first impression for those that might be new to her music. It isn’t all the album’s only high point, either. Just as enjoy able is ‘Broken Record (ft.Mista Cookie Jar).’ Whereas ‘Little Soccer Player’ was sung from the vantage point of the parent, this song is sung from the vantage point of the child. The child sings about his or her parent sounding like a broken record as said figure tries to get the child to brush her hair, to stay in her chair at dinner, why she won’t eat her macaroni and cheese with utensils and more. This could very well be the wrong interpretation, but the tone of the music and lyrics together seems to hint at the gap in understanding of responsibility between parents and children in this case. The young child has almost a frustrated tone as she sings of her father’s request, “He asks me once/He asks me twice/And by the third time/He doesn’t seem so nice/Cause it feels just like a broken record/Asking the same thing/Over and over.” Guest star Mista Cookie Jar’s addition to the song makes it even more enjoyable for listeners. He sings to his younger listeners that they need to give their parents a break, which parents will most definitely appreciate. He adds in a little history lesson on the different forms of music presentation, too. He raps over the track, “So what’s a broken record/Before you ask that/You’ve gotta ask/What’s a record/Way before the invent of MP3s/YouTube/And even before CDs/They made a big brown disc/Made outta wax/Put the needle on the track/And play music back/From the boom/To the bap/Motown/to even rap/Classical/rock/Folk/Pop/Funk/Hip-hop to Jazz/And when the record gets fresh/It gets wicky wicky wack/Cause some sound was straight played/Over and over/Make you lose composure for the record/This defines a broken record/Now that you know/Give your mom and dad a break/You heard?” Mista Cookie Jar’s explanation and tie in to his brief history of vinyl easily reach both parents and their children alike. And alongside Peasley’s own story of the gap between parents and children, it paints a picture just as vivid as that painted in the album’s opener. It makes the album in whole all the more enjoyable, too.
Both ‘Broken Record’ and ‘Little Soccer Player’ are excellent examples of why Stacey Peasley and company are ready to be one of the next big names in “kindie-rock.” There is at least one more song on the band’s album that serves as an example why every label and listener should check out this record. That song is the album’s closer ‘Summer Day.’ Considering that the country is in the grips of the dog days of summer, this celebratory song is a perfect fit for the band’s new album. As with ‘Broken Record,’ this song is sung from the vantage point of the child. The child (and other children) sing of going to the beach to get through the summer. They sing, “It’s summer day/Going to the beach/We’re gonna play/In the sand and sun/Summer day/swimming in the ocean/With our friends/Gonna have a ball. As with the songs previously noted here and those not mentioned, Peasley and her band mates have painted one more wonderfully vivid musical picture to accompany a song that in itself will have listeners of every age singing along happily.
Stacey Peasley exhibits so much talent throughout the course of this album’s ten total songs. From painting near perfect musical pictures to exhibiting a full understanding of the effect of dynamics, Peasley has collectively crafted an album that could very well be the album that really breaks her in the “kindie-rock community.” Lucky Day is available now. It can be ordered direct from the band’s official website at http://www.staceypeasley.com/. Fans can also check out Stacey Peasley’s official Facebook page for her latest news and more at http://www.facebook.com/pages/-The-Stacey-Peasley-Band/60359963730. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.