Bright and sugary like a treat from a Parisian patisserie, here is A Potluck, the third (and second full-length) recording from Los Angeles-based Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band.
Diaz' songwriting strength has always been his knack for a catchy melody, the good pop hook reeling the listeners in. The opening songs -- the Postal Service-aping "Lines and Dots," "On My Bike," and what sounds like a vocoder-assisted "Lemonade Stand" -- seem like they should be packaged with a diabetic warnings if listened too often on repeat, so sweet are the combination of the hooks, handclaps, and kindergarten-focused lyrics. The rest of the pop-rock tracks from Diaz and his bandmate-now-wife Alisha Gaddis offer a little more sonic diversity ("Squirrelly the Squirrel," ska; "Monkey Jones," brass band; "Tres Ratones," a little Tex-Mex).
I wish some of the songs would be pared down (The run times for "Lil' Red Rooster" and "Lemonade Stand" of about three minutes could have been cut in half, creating quick, tart lemonade espressos of a song, for example). And Diaz' lyrics have never been too multi-layered -- here they are as shiny as the music and with the exception of "Invisible Friend" don't really address kids' interior lives. Which is fine, but if that's what you're looking for, you should move on. Of course, if you or your kids want to dance or jump around the room -- something I'm all in favor of -- you are bound to find something here. (The songs on the 29-minute album are most appropriate for kids ages 3 through 7.)
As I hope I've made clear, A Potluck won't change the world. But it's a neat collection of some very nifty songs that should end up in your kids' rooms (or iPods) and Diaz's best family album to date. Definitely recommended.