Giving Family Photograph, the first album from the bi-coastal Dreyer Family Band, a brief review is hard, because you're not likely to hear a kids music album more stuffed with so many feelings this year. The product of the families of Matt and Craig Dreyer, the album gives voice to all of the good times and bad times most families go through.
In many ways, it's completely typical family music territory -- lots of songs about love and creativity and animals playing music ("Totem Party," the closest thing the album has to a traditional folk song on its collection of 17 originals). But a few other songs serve as counterweight to the lovey-dovey stuff, and make those songs' emotions feel earned. When was the last time you heard a song (from a kids' point of view) talk about wanting to hit someone, especially a sibling or a friend, but that's exactly what the Johnny Cash-styled "Mad" covers. Or the '60s soul of "You Get What You Get," which adds music to all those things parents say (or want to say) to their child on those highly-stressed days ("It's a get what I got hope you like it day / If you don't just keep it to yourself today"). The music covers a wide range of styles, but has its locus in funky soul music. It's like a long-lost kids album from 35 years ago. It felt a little long for my tastes, though if you asked me exactly which 4 songs I'd drop to make it a trim 33 minutes rather than the 43 minutes it actually is, I'd be at a loss to do so.
The album will probably be most appreciated by kids ages 3 through 8, though the real target audience is those kids' parents -- if the kids like it, that's a bonus. You can hear some tracks at the band's website (click on "listen") or samples at the album's CD Baby page. Listening to Family Photograph feels a little bit like looking through a family album of highly personal photos; sometimes the photos are fuzzy or seem to have meaning that escapes the casual listener, but at times these snapshots have captured something magical. Recommended.