It's hard to review benefit albums because the worthy cause behind most such albums makes reviewing the music itself difficult. Who wants to say the album's bad if the cause is good? In the case of Joey's Song for Kids, Volume 1, luckily, the songs are mostly pretty good.
First, the cause -- the album benefits The Joseph Gomoll Foundation, which raises money for epilepsy research and advocacy in honor of Joey Gomoll, who died suddenly at the age of 4 while afflicted with Dravet's Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy. After his passing, his dad channeled his energies into establishing the Foundation and getting literally dozens of artists to donate songs (mostly unreleased ones at that) for a series of benefit albums, some with music for adults, some for kids and families.
Which brings us to the music itself. The first few songs, while certainly competent, aren't terribly exciting, staying in a bland album-oriented-rock rut. If you've heard a dozen or more different versions of "The Wheels on the Bus," for example, Lowen & Navarro's version isn't going to stand out at all. But a few songs through, maybe around April Smith and The Great Picture Show's fun and bouncy "Say, Say, Oh Playmate," the album gets more interesting and mostly stays that way. Jon Dee Graham's previously-released "Hippopotamus," is a great little acoustic country-folk tune, and Ellis Paul (no stranger to family music) turns in a wistful "Mr. Teetot." Special mention also goes out to Gurf Morlix's previously released "Dan Blocker" - not specifically a kids song, but the one most likely to be stuck in family's heads. The album is probably most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 7. (For those of you without kids in that age range, you may also care to try the similarly-titled Joey's Song, Volume 1, a collection of songs for adults from the same types of artists - Neko Case, HEM, Robbie Fulks - found on the kiddo version, though I think I preferred the kids' album.)
In the end, beyond the worthy cause, Joey's Song for Kids, Volume 1 stands on its own merits musically. Good intentions aside, it's an album that will likely be played after the initial charitable impluse has subsided. Bring on Volume 2. Recommended.
Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the album for possible review.