Review in Brief: I Count To Ten and other Very Helpful Songs - David Tobocman

VeryHelpfulSongs.jpgIt's been nearly 7 months since I first watched (and wrote about) David Tobocman's fabulous video for his song "Home." (If you haven't watched it, stop reading this, click on the link, and see you back here in about 3 minutes. Really. Go now.)

Clearly I liked the video, so you might be wondering, why in the world haven't I review the rest of Tobocman's debut, I Count To Ten and other Very Helpful Songs? And the answer is... well, I have no good reason. I can't blame this on the dog eating the CD or a snowstorm -- sometimes good CDs just don't get reviewed on the site in a timely manner.

In any case, many CDs attempt to impart lessons to kids -- I know, I've heard a lot of them -- but very few do so in a totally appealing musical manner. This CD easily makes that small but distinguished list. I think there are a couple reasons for it. The first is that the songs are, for the most part, solid. The jazzy title track and "Brush Your Teeth," the pop of "My Rainbow," the country, banjo-inflected "Buttons and Bows" -- they're great melodies back up by well-crafted instrumentation. And more than half a year after I first heard it, I'm still moved by "Home," easily one of the top kids music tracks of the year.

The second reason for the album's appeal I think is that instead of conveying its lessons as a direct "you should do X" or "everybody feel Y," the lyrics are sometimes sung from a first-person perspective, telling the listener how the singer reacts. So the singer counts to ten and doesn't feel so angry ("I Count to Ten"), or the singer keeps his pajamas on through the night ("Jammies Song," based on a real-life problem Tobocman encountered with his daughter). It's not always the case, but there's very little sense of "should" here, and that makes the lessons easier for everyone to take.

The songs are most appropriate for kids ages 2 through 7. You can hear lengthy clips from the 33-minute album here and here. David Tobocman's I Count to Ten and other Very Helpful Songs is a solid little album. I can't guarantee your kids won't blow their top as much or brush their teeth more willingly with repeated listens, but I'm pretty sure you or your kids won't blow your tops if you listen to this a lot. Recommended.