It occurred to me as I listened to Just Say Hi!, the latest album from Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could, that I'm not sure I've ever seen Rymer frown. I'm sure he must occasionally -- maybe -- but I can't recall anger or frustration when I've seen him play live or at kids music events. For the most part, it's just a big grin.
Rymer's music for families has typically had that gregariousness, noticeable even in a genre that has more than its fair share of happy, gregarious folk. On his new album, Rymer doesn't change course as he serves up another 11 tracks of feel-good roots-rock. It's not that the whole album is butterflies and unicorns, relentless peppy. Rather, songs like danceable "Just Say Hi!" ("Don't be afraid of the unfamiliar / Look 'em in the eye / Give 'em a smile, and / just say "hi!") and the anthemic "Tomorrow's People" have Rymer's positive attitude baked right in, faces turned toward the sun even when things aren't perfect. While I could do without the goofy "Pet Song (We Thank You)" because the silly voices sound out of place on the album, for the most part earnest songs like "Red Piano Rag," a ragtime (natch) about Rymer's piano-playing Grandma Helen, or the zydeco-tinged "My Home," stand up to repeated spins. And of course The Little Band That Could still sounds great.
The album is most appropriate for kids ages 5 through 10. You can hear the 38-minute album here. Look at that album for Just Say Hi!. See that big grin on that monster -- that's Rymer's smile in cartoon form. I think your family will probably be smiling after listening as well. Definitely recommended.