Chris Ballew's consistently entertaining modernization of old folk tunes (and writing some modern folk tunes of his own) as Caspar Babypants is problematic.
For the reviewer, at least.
Ever since receiving his latest effort I Found You! for at least a couple months now and I've been struggling with how to write about the album. It's his sixth full-length Caspar Babypants album, and just as every one that's preceded it, it's snappy music, simple but well-constructed -- really, just heaps of fun.
Which makes me a bit sad.
Because, really, if you are a Caspar Babypants fan (as I am), you may already have this album. And you're probably reading this review a) to confirm your own initial impressions of the album, b) to confirm that yes indeed you should get the album if you don't have it, or c) because you're my mom. (Just kidding! I don't think my mom reads my site.)
That doesn't make me sad. What makes me sad is that if your family hasn't gotten into CB at this point, nothing I could write about this album would likely change your mind. Chris Ballew writes catchy hooks with the frequency the rest of write grocery lists, and you're not already listening to him? My pitiful wordsmithing can't change that attitude.
The first tracks here -- the gleeful horn-aided "I Found You," the funky "Just Wondering," the preschool traditional "All the Fish" -- sound like many Babypants classics. They're instantly catchy and perfectly constructed for preschoolers to grasp and sing along. That's probably part of my challenge -- unlike a new band with a distinct sound, or an artist changing their musical approach, Ballew doesn't sound that much different here from his first album Here I Am!. All the components of I Found You! -- the re-imagined folk songs, the obsession with animals and nature, the simple arrangements -- were there from the beginning. For that reason, while I particularly like the title track and "Just Wondering," some of my favorite pieces are the songs that sound a little different, such as "Say Farewell," treated as a sea shanty, or the fun-spooky "Skeletone."
As with all the Babypants disks, the target age range for this album are kids ages 2 through 6, though it'll certainly have broader appeal than that. You can find the 50-minute album at the usual kindie suspects.
Despite the occasional navel-gazing in this review, I hope I've also conveyed how excellent I Found You! is. Just because Chris Ballew's found a groove in recording music as Caspar Babypants doesn't mean that uncreative reviewers such as me should spoil your fun. Highly recommended.