Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Why Does Gray Matter?

Today's album review is for Why Does Gray Matter by Roger Day. The sub-title on the cover reads "... and other brainy songs for kids!" and I think that sets the stage for this clever and pop-y CD. From start to finish, this album is full of songs that celebrate that wrinkly gray organ that we all have upstairs.

This is my first introduction to Roger Day, so I can only speak about his most current CD release. Day has an impressive history both in kids' music and in the wider folk/rock music scene. Like many performers in kids' music, Roger Day had a successful career playing for the grown-up crowd and shared the stage with my greats in the world of folk/rock music (The Indigo Girls, The Crickets and Nanci Griffith just to name a few). After starting a family, he focused his musical mind on the smaller set and has four albums of kids' music for his fans to enjoy.

Musically, this album is upbeat, exciting and well produced. The musicians who accompany Roger Day's acoustic guitar work help drive the songs and provide that, all too crucial, beat that gets the kids up and dancing. His website lists The Beatles, U2 and The Clash as influences, but if I were to play the "sounds like" game, I'd say that I hear a bit of Tom Petty (minus the nasally voice) and Elvis Costello (minus the gravely voice).

As I stated before, this is a very clever "concept" album. The brainy theme places the target audience on the mature side. Gray matter, right brain/left brain and "Sara Bellum" might fly over the head of your average preschooler (pun intended), but careful elementary school listeners would have a lot to learn and enjoy.

The Mike Brady Wrap-Up: I am always encouraged hear kids' music that doesn't pull punches and dumb down the content just because the audience is young. As a teacher, I am constantly blown away by the brilliance of young minds. I think people too often mistake naivete for a lack of intelligence. Roger Day certainly doesn't. Why Does Gray Matter is not your average sing-along, nursery rhyme album. I am sure younger listeners would enjoy the peppy music and catchy tunes, but some of the concepts might be too heady (there I go again). Cheers to Roger Day for this great album, and here's to future success in the world of kids' music.

Kid Quote of the Day: "Hi, Me Oh Ni!" (translation: Hi Mr. Nick) ~Hallie (age: 2)

1 comment:

Anne Deysher said...

This sounds like an intriguing album. Aside from its being probably over the heads of young children, for the littlest children such an academic focus is probably less important than sing-a-bility and musical fun. It sounds like a better fit for elementary school ages.

I love it - Mi Oh Ni!