The Okee Dokee Brothers have done it again. The duo – Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing – has taken its spot (at least so far) atop this year’s field of new family music albums with its latest full-length studio recording. The album, Songs For Singin’ is also an easy candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new albums. That is due in no small part to the record’s musical arrangements, which will be addressed shortly. The lyrical themes presented throughout the album also play into the album’s success, so they will be discussed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements. That is especially considering that the album is composed of 27 songs, so it will also be discussed later. All three noted items are important in their own way to the whole of this album. All things considered, they make Songs For Singin’ a work that will have audiences and critics alike singing its praises.
The Okee Dokee Brothers’ fifth full-length studio recording Songs For Singin’ is another win for the duo and its fans. That is proven in part through the diverse range of musical arrangements that are featured throughout the album. Listeners get plenty of the bluegrass sound for which the duo has come to be known over the course of its past four albums. This time though, Mailander and Lansing branch out more, offering audiences something more. There is a touch of Dixieland added to the mix in this album, as well as some soul and even a “beachy” sort of sound alongside a sea shanty and even some folk sounds. As if that is not enough, audiences also get treated to a touch of zydeco late in the record’s 70-minute run, as well as some Celtic sounds, too. The musical diversity is a nice, new step forward for The Okee Dokee Brothers, considering that the duo has built so much of its fame and fan base on its bluegrass and country sounds and its ‘adventure albums,” which saw the guys actually traveling the course of some of America’s most prominent land and water bodies. It shows, much as with the pair’s fourth album Winterland, that growth. Whether one is a new listener or a longtime fan, the fact remains that the diverse musical styles featured in this record will appeal to audiophiles of any age. As important as the arrangements are to the whole of Songs For Singin’, they are but a portion of what makes the record so strong. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements are just as important as that content to the record’s whole.
Over the course of its 27 songs, Mailander and Lansing tackle a variety of topics, all of which are just as widely appealing as the album’s musical arrangements. ‘The Music Train’ for instance is in fact about a train. More specifically, it focuses on the musicality of a train; from the steady clickety-clack of the wheels on the rails to the sound of the whistle to the steady “beat” of the chugging, like a drum. ‘Campin’’ takes on the matter of, well, camping. What’s interesting is that the lyrical approach here makes it something that would have been a perfect fit on the now defunct NPR program A Prairie Home Companion. The duo jokingly comments on a broken outhouse, leeches, and even the trials of taking kids along for such an outing. The end result is a presentation that will leave listeners laughing as they sing and tap their feet along with the song. ‘Jubilation,’ with its soulful musical arrangement, is a song about the joys of parenthood. ‘Neighborhood Band’ is a celebration of community and music. In the time in which people the world are over living, this song holds an extra special meaning in its lyrical theme. ‘Ask Away’ meanwhile encourages the curiosity of every child. ‘Raise a Ruckus’ changes things up even more, simply encouraging people to get together and have a good time on a Saturday night. It’s just one more example of just how varied the lyrical themes are throughout Songs For Singin’. Together with the album’s other noted themes and the rest of the album’s songs, there is no doubt left in listeners’ minds as to the diversity of the album’s lyrical themes. Considering this along with the diversity exhibited in the record’s musical arrangements, the album’s success becomes even clearer. The album’s primary and secondary content are just a portion of what makes it another successful offering from The Okee Dokee Brothers. Its sequencing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.
The sequencing of Songs For Singin’ keeps the record’s energy steady from start to finish. As the record opens in ‘Hope Machine,’ the energy is mid-tempo, yet reserved at the same time. That measured energy carries audiences through ‘Early Bird,’ the record’s second song, before picking up noticeably in the album’s third song, ‘Neighborhood Band.’ ‘One Little Heart,’ which immediately follows, pulls things back slightly again, but still keeps the album’s energy just enough and keeps that vibe as the album moves into the sea shanty that is ‘Sally-O.’ That energy stays in place up until the record reaches ‘Jubilation,’ which pulls things back again, keeping the record just as engaging and entertaining as ever. ‘Music Train’ picks things back up with its steady, driving rhythm from the guitars and snare drum. As the album progresses through the rest of its extensive body from there, the songs’ energies rise and fall just enough from one to the next to keep listeners fully engaged and entertained. The result is just as successful as that from the combination of the album’s musical and lyrical content. When all of this is considered together, the whole cements The Okee Dokee Brothers’ new LP as a definite for any critic’s list of the year’s top new family albums and best overall albums.
The Okee Dokee Brothers’ fifth full-length studio recording Songs for Singin’ is another successful entry for the family entertainers. It is a work that will appeal just as easily to adults as it will to children, as it is not specifically aimed at either audience group. That is nothing new for the duo, either, as its past albums prove. That is evident in the record’s musical and lyrical content. The record’s sequencing puts the final touch to its presentation. It ensures the album’s energy remains stable, rising and falling at all of the right points throughout its extensive hour-plus run time. Each item noted is critical in this own way to the overall presentation of Songs For Singin’. All things considered, they make The Okee Dokee Brothers’ latest LP a work that will have every listener singing its praises. The album is available now. More information on the record is available online along with all of The Okee Dokee Brothers’ latest news at:
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