Let me begin by saying that I had heard "Marvelous Day!" the song long before I heard Marvelous Day! the album. And the song... well, it just sounded like one of those pull-out-all-the-stops attempts at a hit that just, well, didn't work. Too forcibly goofy, too many kids in the chorus, too much or too little of something -- whatever the case, I didn't like it. So I approached the SteveSongs' album, their fifth, originally released in 2005 and rereleased this week by Rounder Records, with trepidation. Which is another way of saying I skipped the opening (title) track and held my breath.
Well, I needn't have been so worried. For the most part, the album will have broad appeal to families. SteveSongs' namesake, New England-based Steve Roslonek, and his bandmates, primarily Anand Nayak, have crafted some fabulous pop melodies here. "Elephant Hide and Seek" is an uptempo ska-inflected tune while "Sprytle the Turtle" is one of many solid kids' pop songs here. My favorite track on the album is a song called "Ducks Hatching," which Roslonek and Nayak co-wrote with "Mrs. Grimsley's 3rd grade class." OK, they're not exactly George Harrison to Roslonek and Nayak's Lennon/McCartney, but the resulting song, about a classroom waiting for some duck eggs to hatch, has got a killer chorus and great usage of a kids' chorus to build out the sound. (It is, by far, the best song you will ever hear with the word "incubator" in it.)
Lyrically, the songs target the kids fairly directly. Rather than writing songs that might fully engage the adults listening, Roslonek and his partners prefer to throw in funny asides and puns to tickle the adults' funny bone. "Fast Monkey," a silly song about contrasts, has a cartoony-voiced something-or-other called (I think) "Silly Minilli" who would drive me nuts if it weren't for the fact that his asides are quite amusing, almost echoing the thoughts of the adults listening. (He appears briefly on a couple other songs, too.) The lyrics are well-done and large-hearted, but they're definitely of much greater interest to your kids than to the adults.
The band has a nice sound for the pop melodies, but Danger, Will Robinson! there are lots of (talented) kids' voices on this disk, sometimes taking leading roles. Your kids may enjoy this but you may grow weary of them. (The voices, not your kids, silly.)
Kids ages 5 through 9 will most appreciate the songs (and lyrics) on the album. You can listen to samples from the 52-minute album here.
Marvelous Day! is filled with strong melodies and fun, uplifting lyrics. There are enough moments of adult interest to sustain multiple listenings, which is good, because your kids will probably want to listen to this a lot. Recommended, if only for your kids' sake.