It is fun to see artists who initially just dip their toes into the family music pond dive in as they get more comfortable in their new waters.
To extend the metaphor a little bit, when it comes to family music, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band have plunged in with scuba gear and a new houseboat. Since releasing his debut EP Luckiest Adventure a little more than 3 years ago, Diaz has acquired a full-blown band, married dynamo Alisha Gaddis, and barely stopped to take a breath.
On their fifth and latest album, Lishy Lou and Lucky Too , the couple's energy is used to enliven the record's conceit, loosely structured around the "Lishy and Lucky Radio Show," which may soon be transitioning to a TV show. The album features a cast of wacky characters (a time traveler, a traveling salesman, a nosy neighbor) united in their taste for bad puns. The jokes told in the interstitial sketches may amuse your local kindergartner, but will likely generate groans in the adult set.
They sit somewhat uneasily here because they interrupt the true stars, the songs themselves. Co-written by Diaz, Gaddis, and Michael Farkas, many of them are irrepressible pop hits. "Thingamajig" is a top contender for the year's best kindie pop song, while "Pockets," about Farkas' character who only communicates via instrument, has a strutting feel. (The theme song is pretty darn catchy, too.) It's not solely uptempo -- "Goodnight My Love" is a tender lullaby with nifty guitar work from Diaz.
The 35-minute album is most appropriate for kids ages 4 through 8. On one level, the album is an introduction to an actual TV show Diaz and Gaddis hope to make featuring all the characters on the album, and I think that concept will work better there than it does here. But on another level, with songs about Jackie Robinson and Amelia Earhart, along with the fabulous album closer "When I Grow Up," ("When I grow up / I won't close my ears / to things I may not want to hear"... "When I grow up / I'm gonna dream / farther than my eyes can see") the album is also a celebration of dreamers and doers, of taking chances like Diaz and Gaddis are doing. On that level, the album succeeds fabulously. Definitely recommended.
Note: I received a copy of the album for possible review.