Review: Dressed Up For the Party - Keith Munslow

DressedUpForTheParty.jpgI have been a fan of Rhode Island-based Keith Munslow since hearing his fun 2005 album Accidentally (on purpose) (review here). But I hadn't heard any of his storytelling until giving his recently-released Dressed Up For the Party a spin.

I should have known his storytelling would be every bit as fun (and funny) as his music. There are just 4 tracks here stretching out over the album's 47-minute runtime, nicely sequenced. The opener, "Five Second Rule," is storytelling with some strutting blues bookending Munslow's observations on the eternal food/floor conundrum. It's an amusing appetizer to the main two stories here. The 18-minute "No Token, No Milk" tells the story of a school-aged Munslow losing the token he needs to get his carton of milk. It's the funniest story here.

It's followed up by "Marfa the Barfa," a more dramatic story (though not without funny points) with no music about a 13-year-old girl whose fondest wish of going out to sea with her fisherman father is thwarted by her throwing up over the side of her father's boat (repeatedly). At nearly 20 minutes long, you might think that it would drag or fail to keep the kids attention, but my kids (especially the 6-year-old) hang on to every word. I could see where both stories were going (or at least the major plot points), but in storytelling it's the details and the execution (listen to the squeak of Martha's brother's tricycle and its use), and Munslow's got those down pat.

The disk wraps up with the title track, an amusing musical number about a kid who doesn't want to, uh, get dressed up for the party. It's a light dessert to the disk. It shows off Munslow's musical chops, along with that of his co-producer, Bill Harley (a talented singer/storyteller in his own right, and a Grammy-winner to boot). With the exception of "Marfa," music is important to the tracks, and even in the comparatively non-musical "No Token," Munslow's use of the African box drum the cajon made my two-year-old dance like crazy.

The stories will be of most interest to kids ages 4 through 10. You can read the liner notes and lyrics at Munslow's page for the album or listen to samples at its CDBaby page.

Dressed Up For the Party is a solid album of storytelling with some sweet musical accompaniment. In pajamas at home, or in school clothes in the car, your kids will enjoy the disk and you will, too. Recommended.