With her third studio album, Tall and Small (2006), set to be released next week, Rebecca Frezza and her band Big Truck make a bid for kids' music stardom. The New Jersey-based singer/songwriter has had videos on Noggin, but this album seems one of those CDs designed to attract even wider attention. Take, for example, what would be considered the lead single off the album, "It Wasn't Me," about receiving blame (or placing it on somebody else). Frezza and Big Truck take the song, written by Ron Cardazone, and craft it into an insanely catchy tune with a number of musical layers. The secret is taking the "tattletale" song -- you'll know it when you hear it -- and weaving it into the chorus. (And this isn't the confident narrator of Justin Roberts' "My Brother Did It," but a much more uncertain 6-year-old, which may appeal to 6-year-olds for an entirely different reason than Roberts' song appeals to them.) Frezza is no slouch herself in the songwriting department, writing or co-writing 12 of the album's 14 tracks. A couple of the stronger tracks include the title track, which has a melody that climbs and falls repeatedly, nicely echoing the subject of the song, and "Show Me!," which borrows some of the guitar riff from "What I Like About You" to create an energetic song that encourages movement (I'm envisioning a very hyperactive crowd in concert). The better songs generally were those which used the skills of the 8-member Big Truck band to good effect on the pop-rock tunes -- fiddle and mandolin on the Irish-tinged "Tell Me A Story," or the nifty guitar work on the "Can't Let Go Blues." I tended to prefer the faster songs, finding some of the lyrics on the slow songs worked a bit too hard at establishing the positive message that runs throughout the album. ("Happy" in particularly didn't work for me at all, though I could see how a 4-year-old, after wiggling through Frezza's faster numbers, might be more receptive to the message than I.) The faster songs seemed to convey Frezza's lyrical points with more ease. The 41-minuste album is laser-targeted at kids ages 4 through 8. You can now hear clips of the album at Frezza's website (click on "Music & Lyrics" at the top, then on the album cover); they're also available at Amazon. Rebecca Frezza and Big Truck are clearly shooting for the stars with this album, seeking a wider audience. As a whole, Tall and Small is an album deserving of that wider audience that this kid-targeted and adult-friendly CD will bring them. Recommended.
The list of June 2006 children's music-related releases is pretty slim, at least compared to May 2006. So now that all the kids (except those in those newfangled "year-round" schools) are on summer vacation, the labels are, too? Ah, well... June 6 - Cars Soundtrack -- Hey, it's got Sheryl Crow, James Taylor, and Randy Newman. That's enough to at least be worth further investigation. (To listen to 1-minute samples of each song, go here and click on "Music" up on the right-hand side.) June 20 - Eric Herman - Snow Day. Releasing an album titled "Snow Day" on essentially the first day of summer is just cruel to those of us living in Phoenix. Setting that aside, you can listen to random tracks off all of Herman's CDs here. July 5 - Rebecca Frezza - Tall and Small. Yeah, it's a July release, not June. Sue me, it was a short list. Lots of stuff coming up this summer and into the fall.