Review: "All Around Ralph's World" - Ralph's World

AllAroundRalphsWorld.jpgRalph's World has done a lot of traveling, going from small label (Mini Fresh, an offshoot of Chicago's Minty Fresh) to big label (Disney) back to small label (Bar/None, who failed to come up with a cutesy kid-division name for Ralph).

So perhaps it's not so surprising that his new album All Around Ralph's World takes the word "world" from Ralph Covert's band name seriously, producing a loosely travel-themed album. But "loosely" is the key adverb, because it's not a concept album. It's just an album that has a number of songs that happen to be about travel. I prefer to think of the album as another collection of solid pop-rock songs for the big wheel set (see "Easy Ryders," which also works in a gratuitous Beatles reference) from an artist who's already turned out such songs by the suitcase. There aren't many clunkers (such as "All Around the World," where Covert sings about learning stories from around the world rather than singing those stories), but they're more than outweighed by the nuggets, such as the poppy "All About Bob," the funny "Black Hole Boy" (who loses everything, including, eventually, words to his song), and the sweet "Blue Airplane." And although the album drags a bit around the 2/3rds-point, the last four tracks, starting with "The Funniest Joke in the World" on through the album closer "I'm Not Tired," are excellent.

The album's most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 8. You can listen to the album at Ralph's website (just click on the "Playlist" in the upper right-hand corner).

I found Covert's last album, The Rhyming Circus, a little underwhelming compared to his previous body of work -- not bad by any means, but not memorable either. All Around Ralph's World is a return to form for one of the best songwriters in the kids music genre. As you're picking out music for your family's summer road trip (or even planning it), All Around Ralph's World would be a fine addition to the playlist. Definitely recommended.

I was provided a copy of the disk for possible review.