Itty-Bitty Review: Hot Dog! - Caspar Babypants

Hot Dog! album coverThere is no stopping Caspar Babypants.  He released my favorite kids album of 2011, Sing Along! (review), in August 2011, and his next album is due out in September 2012.

An album out once a year would reflect a pretty creative clip as it is, but that's too slow for Mr. Babypants -- AKA Chris Ballew -- as next week his new album Hot Dog! is released.  How's a new album every 6 months or so work for you?

It works for Ballew.  There's no sign that he's cranking out subpar music, trading on his good name for a quick buck or two -- just the opposite, in fact.  He's tapped into some super-creative vein, a modern-day folksinger amplified with a home studio with a whole host of instruments and mixing programs.  With Laurie Berkner taking multiple years between album releases, Ballew has taken over the mantle of Preschool-Songwriter-In-Chief.

Ballew's equally adept at reconfiguring traditional folksongs ("This Old Whale," a take on "This Old Man") and writing new ones ("All That I Have Got").  He'll mix in the occasional story song ("Eleanor the Elegant Elephant") and pure kid-friendly pop (the funky "Stompy the Bear" and the light-as-a-feather "I Don't Mind").  And while Ballew is responsible for most of the music here and offers a clean, minimal sound, he puts the occasional guest artist (Visqueen's Rachel Flotard, for example, on "More Moles") to good use.

The 49-minute album will be most appreciated by kids ages 1-6, but as with most Caspar Babypants albums, you'll probably listen unabashedly even if they're not around.  With Hot Dog!, Chris Ballew continues his streak of fabulous songwriting for kids.  I, for one, am glad I'll only need to wait another five months or so to hear more Caspar Babypants music.  Highly recommended.