Review: Way Out - Justin Roberts

Children's music doesn't have a lot of great anthems. Sure, the Wiggles may be able to get a bunch of kids screaming like Shea Stadium with the Beatles in 1963 with the strains of "Hot Potato," but there are few songs that I can envision getting a crowd of kids singing along. (Think U2 and "Pride (In the Name of Love)" or "Beautiful Day," or, in a less enobling way, KISS songs.)

But on his most recent album Way Out, Justin Roberts writes a couple songs that I think reach kids' anthemic status. "Way Out" is about various characters and their dreams and encourages kids to "sing this song as loud as you dare," while "Humpty's At It Again" adds an interesting twist to the traditional nursery rhyme with a fun "oo oo oo" chorus. In concert, these must be fun to listen to (or sing with).

The other songs are another strong collection of mostly upbeat rockers. The use of brass on four songs may induce Herb Alpert flashbacks in adults, but is a nice expansion of the sonic palette. Roberts still has fun with his lyrics, likely to generate amused smiles from kids and their parents (though the phrase "Why-oh-why-oh-why-oh-J-C-C!" in "Day Camp" is likely to go over the heads of the kids).

Way Out is Roberts' strongest album yet. With songs about school and the tooth fairy, it's targeted mostly at kids 5 to 8 years of age. It can be found at the usual online and offline suspects as well as through Roberts' website. Highly recommended.