I've listened to Keith Munslow's new album Tiny Destroyer album several times now, and I have been having difficulty putting my finger on exactly what it is that appeals to me about this album, and Munslow's work generally.
Maybe the problem is that if I write it down, it sounds pretty prosaic. Here goes:
Keith Munslow writes good songs with humor, and plays them well.
Yeah, it doesn't sound any more relevatory written down than it did in my head. But just because something is boring doesn't make it any less true.
Take the leadoff track, "Coffee Breath," an ode -- or anti-ode, really -- to a parent's love of coffee. The narrator child complains about his parent's breath while underneath Corey Pesaturo plays some pretty amazing accordion for a Argentian/Rhode Islandan tango. On Munslow moves through musical genres -- the doo-wop of "Intelligent Clam" (about, well, a bivalve with brains), the jazz swing of "Seeing Monkeys," the martial strut of "Tiny Destroyer" -- telling stories that should provide a grin if not outright laughs. "Knocks the knickknacks from their nooks" from the title track isn't an objectively funny line, but it's a perfect one. Tiptoeing around a sleepy dad, kids hopped up on sugar, riding a bike ("Magic Bike," one of a couple songs not going for the laugh), these aren't uncommon topics for the genre, but they're sharply executed. I realize that my personal favorite, "The Last Chicken Wing," might not match up with the preference of the 7-year-old, because Munslow's underplaying of a dramatic piano ballad about who's going to eat the last piece from an order of wings is subtle, but that 7-year-old will appreciate it when she's older.
Munslow doesn't spend the entire album going for yuks. He also performs a couple longer stories (7 and 10 minutes long) -- "Old Joe's Bones" is gently scary and foreboding, while "Princess Pepper's Story" is a bit of self-empowerment. And "I Can Still Say I Love You," which closes out the album, is a little bit of "Cat's in the Cradle" for the 21st century (but loving instead of depressing).
The 48-minute album will be most enjoyed by kids ages 5 through 9 (and by new parents of infants and toddlers). As a side note, I thought the physical copy was one of the nicer packages in terms of layout and design -- by no means elaborate, I just thought Denise J.R. Bass' design, fearing Eric Fulford's illustrations, neatly captured the songs and stories within.
Munslow is now a parent and has perhaps an entirely new perspective on parenthood. In addition's to his numerous gigs, he's led a variety show for a number of years. Parenthood + a little bit of theatricality + excellent musician = a bunch of fun. Simply said, Tiny Destroyer is my favorite Munslow album to date. Definitely recommended.
Note: I received a copy of this album for possible review.