Review: Chickens - Buck Howdy with BB

Chickens.jpgBuck Howdy is the most-polished-sounding of the small but growing kids' country music subgenre. Howdy has a twangy but appealingly melodic voice and his tracks bear the sound of stellar production you'd hear on the best of Nashville's releases.

Buck Howdy's latest album, Chickens, showcases these strengths and adds another one -- BB, Howdy's co-singer at many live shows, just about gets co-billing. BB's sweet voice, which appears on almost every track, blends quite nicely with Howdy's. The old nugget "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens" is a great example of his approach, melding western swing with a bit of big band. Nice vocals from Howdy and his co-singer BB, a couple horns, and a sweet fiddle solo, all making for a fun and nifty three minutes. "You Are My Sunshine" doesn't have the horns, but the rendition has pep and swing.

There really aren't any bad tracks here -- either the Buck Howdy originals (7 of which are co-written with BB) or the 6 covers. I should note that Howdy is sort of a country-fied version of Dan Zanes, sometimes not so interested in making music for kids as much as making family-friendly music (or even just music that interests him). While the album is stronger as a whole than its predecessor, Giddyup!, there's nothing as immediately appealing for the kids as "Baked Beans" off that album. "Are You Havin' Any Fun?" is a great little chestnut (once recorded by Tony Bennett and Count Basie and ably covered here), but its theme of avoiding overwork will probably (hopefully) be over the heads of your kindergartner. As a result, if you're looking for an album that is laser-focused on kids' interests, this won't be your best bet.

Kids ages from 4 through 8 will most enjoy the specifically kid-focused songs here (though as I've noted, it's not kid-focused all the time). You can hear samples of the 41-minute album at Howdy's music page or the album's CDBaby page.

While Chickens might not be an album that speaks directly to kids at all times, it never underestimates them -- the production is top-notch and whoever isn't the main lyrical target of each song (be it the parents or the kids) will find enough other things going on musically that they'll enjoy the track. It's a fun little album -- recommended.