Is there any stopping Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis, the couple at the heart of Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band? The release a couple months ago of Aqui, Alla marked their sixth album in little more than three years. That's on top of the TV show, the nonstop touring, and, oh yes, the Latin Grammy for for Best Spanish-language Children's Album for Fantastico!.
The answer, then, is probably no.
Unlike Fantastico!, which almost exclusively featured Spanish-language reworkings of their previous English-language hits, the new album features all new songs (plus "De Colores," because of course). Diaz and Gaddis returned to team up with Gilbert Velasquez, who produced Fantastico!, and they somehow manage to merge Diaz' natural indie-pop sound with the sounds of Tejano music. I mean, anytime you can bring in someone like Flaco Jimenez on accordion (on the leadoff track "Viva La Pachanga"), you just sit back and enjoy the result. While most of the tracks are bouncy, danceable tunes, the album ends on a more mellow note, with the tender "Aqui, Alla" (about the multi-varied backgrounds of many Americans) before finishing with "De Colores," which isn't really a dance song (though Diaz et al. come close to turning it into one).
The one downside to the album -- and it's not going to be a downside for everyone -- is that the album comes with no way for the English-language speaker to bridge the gap between the music and their own experience. For the Spanish-language speaker, of course, that's not an issue at all, but I found myself wishing that explanations of the songs in the promotional material were included in the album packaging. You can enjoy the music without knowing a whit of Spanish, and yes, you can find lyrics and translations at Diaz' website -- but I think some of those families would enjoy it more if there were more of a guide right there with the CD.
The brief 26-minute album is most appropriate for kids ages 4 through 8. You can hear the album here.
I love finding out what Diaz and Gaddis are cooking up next for families who love kids music. The duo could have totally rested on their laurels with one Spanish-language album and left it at that, but they came back with Aqui, Alla, which is better in almost every way. It gives me hope that a third album of their hybrid Spanish-language indie-jano (that's "indie" + "Tejano") will grace shelves and iPods at some point. (And I'd encourage them to do even more to bring us non-Spanish dancers along for the ride.) Definitely recommended.