There are those who, upon hearing Rockin' In the Forest With Farmer Jason, the recently-released second album from Farmer Jason, might wonder: Could this be the very same Jason Ringenberg who fronted "Jason and the Scorchers"? It sounds so... so... different.
Those of us who have heard A Day at the Farm..., his first kids' album, know that it's definitely him.
The hard part for older listeners to get used to when listening to Rockin' In the Forest is the sheer exuberance of the whole thing -- shiny, gleaming horns on the poppy leadoff track "The Forest Oh!" or the modern country production of the slightly mournful melody of "Arrowhead." The wellspring of exuberance, however, is Farmer Jason himself, who is just so darn enthusiastic that it might drive some parents nuts. Except that he goes so far beyond the line that there's that glimmer of "yes, I know this is all a little too much, but your kids are eating this up, aren't they?, so just play along." I love the deadpan way he says he's going to "sing a song about a moose on the loose called... 'He's a Moose... on the Loose.'"
Ringenberg knows his way around a bunch of musical styles, from the spaghetti western stylings of "Ode to a Toad" to the Django Reinhardt violin noodlings of "A Butterfly Speaks" to smallest, simplest (and perhaps best) song on the whole disk, the virtually a cappella "Mrs. Mouse." He wraps the melodic nuggets around lyrics that introduce young listeners to different animals in the forest (natch). While the cover and liner note art suggest very anthropomorphized approaches (ugh -- did I just use the phrase "anthropomorphized approaches"?) to the subject, the actual lyrics play it straight for the most part.
Kids ages 3 through 8 are the ones most likely to appreciate Jason's enthusiastic approach and lyrical focus here. You can hear samples wherever fine kids' music is sold (on the Internet, anyway).
If you liked A Day at the Farm..., you'll also like this new album, as it's very similar in tone, maybe a little broader musically. I'm giving this album a "Recommended," but it's with the warning that you're going to have to detach that little parental "I'm too cool for this" monitor in your head -- if you can do that (your kids don't -- or shouldn't -- have one yet), you'll enjoy this just fine. Recommended.