New York's Robert Burke Warren, AKA Uncle Rock, has always worn his heart upon his embroidered sleeve, and that's certainly apparent on his latest album The Big Picture. The title is deliberate, as many of the songs here deal with environmental concerns (the duet with Elizabeth Mitchell on the waltz "There Is No Away", for example, or "Garbage Barge"), or the "shop local" movement (which "Stop at a Mom n' Pop" thankfully doesn't actually use that phrase).
"Leave the Bees Be," which from the title sounds like it might be in that camp, is sillier than that -- it features a "buzzing" solo, after all. It's reflective of the general approach that Warren with his producer Dean Jones takes -- very loose roots-rock with some nice touches (the cello on "There Is No Away," or the bells and horns on "Leave the Bees Be"). My favorite track from the album, the full-on rocker "Shake It Off!," features an energetic vocal turn Ralph & Ralph's KT Legnini. It's all about recovering from injury or mistakes, even aping Billy Joel's similarly-themed "You're Only Human" by leaving in the final mix laughter that couldn't have been planned.
The album is most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 8; listen to clips here. Even at 38 minutes in length, the album still feels stuffed full (and probably would have been OK without the last 2 tracks). The Big Picture has things to say and opinions to share, and that probably isn't for every family, some of whom like their kids music... fluffier. But it says those things and shares those opinions with verve and good humor, and that's enough for a lot of us. Recommended.