The family music of Chris Ballew -- recorded as Caspar Babypants -- has been so consistently good over his past eight Caspar albums. (I don't think I've ever been as pleased with the result of any prediction of mine as the one from six years ago that suggested Ballew "might make a whole bunch of great CDs for the family.")
So when I got an advance review copy of Night Night!, his ninth album, out today, my question wasn't whether it'd be any good -- the quality goes without saying -- but whether he could translate his tightly-contstructed hook-filled melodies into lullaby form.
Because, as you might gather from the title, this is supposed to be a cool-down album.
I hope Ballew doesn't take this the wrong way, but his album is forgettable in all the right ways. What I mean by that is the music, while catchy, isn't necessarily one bouncy hook-filled song after another. Rather, it features a more consistent -- and obviously far mellower -- tone. The opening track "Just For You," is a lovely song featuring words of unconditional love (one of the backbone topics of lullabies), as is "Sad Baby," but for the most part the strength of the album is that the songs almost imperceptibly slide from slightly bouncy with lyrics from the wandering brain of a child who's just turned out the light all the way to album closer "Made of Light," whose minimal lyrics and ambient sounds would fit right in amidst the contemplative "space music" of Hearts of Space. (It's a cousin to the ambient music Ballew has started posting.) So while there are fewer "classic" individual CB tracks, perhaps, as an album with a specific purpose in mind, it's kind of brilliant.
The 50-minute album is targeted at kids ages 0 through 5 or 6, though many of the tracks would probably fit on a relaxation album for a broader, older age range. Night Night! is a stellar lullaby album with a set of soothing sounds for whenever a break is necessary. Highly recommended.
Note: I received a copy of the album for possible review.