Review in Brief: Songs for the Coolest Kids - Princess Katie and Racer Steve

SongsForTheCoolestKids.jpgLet's be upfront and say that the songs on Songs for the Coolest Kids, the debut album from New York-based Princess Katie and Racer Steve, are geared directly at kids ages 4 through 8. Would you listen to these songs on your own, without your kids around? Probably not. Why not? The subject matter and directness of the lyrics aren't written with you in mind. On "Tell the Truth," for example, the chorus goes "Tell the truth! / Nobody likes a lie / Tell the truth / It's okay to cry." Other songs talk about returning lost objects to their rightful owner and how important it is to just try. This is straight-up telling you what's right and what's wrong (or "emotional development," to use Katie and Steve's phrase), and it's great for 5-year-olds (most of the time), and a little dull for their parents.

Having said that, there aren't many albums taking this approach that are as tuneful as this one. The songs here are a collection of well-done pop-rock. "Tell Them How You Feel" has a lo-fi sixties rock feel, replete with handclaps, while "Tell the Truth" sounds like 10,000 Maniacs (not least of which because Princess Katie sounds just like Natalie Merchant (and I know I'm not the first to make the comparison). If some of the tunes sound a lot like other songs ("Kings & Princesses" has a very .38 Special sound, while "Miracle Lullaby" is seems to be thisclose to infringing on the copyright to "Killing Me Softly"), at least the borrowing is judicious, and the kids won't mind.

If you want to listen, you can go to the Princess Katie and Racer Steve website and listen to the "radio" there. You probably won't find yourself sneaking a listen when your kids are gone, but it's an appealing enough spin when they're around.