Los Angeles-based musician Parker Bent makes his living as a preschool music teacher, which means he gets to hone his performing skills on a daily basis. It's those performing skills that get a workout on Charlie Davidson's Tricycle Club, his second CD, released earlier this month.
As an album, Charlie is a bit more coherent than Bent's debut, I Am Your New Music Teacher, which was all over the map in musical styles in its brief running time. Over the course of 37 minutes, many of the 14 tracks sound like they've been recovered from a long lost 1970's AM kids radio. On "Allow Me," a song about, well, boogers, Bent does his best Johnny Cash impersonation, while on "Scooch Back," he melds a Lynyrd Skynyrd-worthy riff with a topic dear to many kids' hearts -- crowding the TV. ("My Little Big Brother" also throws in a Southern rock sound, but not nearly so overt.)
Beyond adding musical wit to his melodies (such as the "neener-neener-neener" riff on the bluesy "Things I Like To Do (mom says I can't do no more)" or the effects-pedal-exuberance of "Old MacDonald Had A Farm"), Bent uses his vocals to draw smiles out of his youthful audience. The space opera "Spaceman Steve" has Bent playing multiple parts, while his live cover of the Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" teases his preschool audience in part by occasionally singing the wrong lyric -- you can hear the glee in the kids' voices as they correct him. The CD is even a little educational as a couple short "Notes/Chords" interludes teach the difference between the two. (Unfortunately, their placement in the sequence didn't make perfect sense to me as, for example, the snippet using the harmonica didn't come before a song using the harmonica. Good idea and well-executed, I'd've just put 'em elsewhere in the CD.)
I'm going to peg the CD as most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 7, though there's some wiggle room on either side of that. You can hear extended samples of several songs at the album's CDBaby page.
Charlie Davidson's Tricycle Club reflects the promise of Bent's debut CD. It's silly enough to keep kids' attention and definitely musical enough to satisfy not just the kids but their parents, too. Recommended.