Posted by: Jamie Stamm | June 4, 2008

What we’re listening to: “Pop Fly”

“Pop Fly” by Justin Roberts

If you’re the parent of a preschooler and have yet to discover Justin Roberts, get thee to amazon.com and buy one of his CDs.

Posthaste.

How do I even begin to describe this amazing musician who actually has made children’s music tolerable? His voice is – I’m struggling to find the right word here – timeless? James Tayloresque? Perfect? (And he sounds the same live as on his CDs – we’ve seen him in concert twice at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro and were floored by his performances.) His lyrics are multi-dimensional, with humor that appeals to both his youngest fans and their parents. And his delivery is impeccable – enthusiastic at times, amusing at others and, when the song calls for it, meltingly sentimental.

I pre-ordered “Pop Fly,” and amazon.com had it waiting on my doorstep the day of its release. We immediately popped it in the CD player, and the title track, the first on the album, blew us away. It was pure Roberts – an upbeat, funny, sing-along song.

The rest of the CD was just as pleasing. Following are our top 5 tracks, starting with our favorite:

“Pop Fly” (Track 1): I really think this is the best song on the album, but what elevates it even higher for me is that my 2-year-old son, who is a baseball fanatic, has adopted it as his anthem. He starts singing it every time he picks up a bat or slips on a glove. Have a listen to this infectious tune below, and you’ll see why.

Favorite line: “… To the pitcher, or the batter? Is it the former or the latter? Does it even really matter?”

“Stay-At-Home Dad” (Track 7): If “Pop Fly” is Anthony’s anthem, then this is Cera’s – she knows every word and will belt out this song, which tells the story of a stay-at-home dad who cleans, cooks and isn’t afraid to go down the slide when he takes his kids to the park. And at our most recent Roberts’ concert, he introduced hand movements to the song (think The Supremes), which makes it even more fun when we mimic it at home.

Favorite line: “The way he folds up the laundry, it’s a little naive, but this man can play a rock-and-roll guitar like you wouldn’t believe.” (Close runner-up: “Our clothes don’t really match, but we don’t even mind.”)

“The Backyard Super Kid” (Track 5): Another song that Cera has memorized and will sing enthusiastically. It shares the story of a future super-hero who wears a homemade costume and performs fantastic feats like picking up a worm and taming lions (“well, they’re dandelions”).

Favorite line: “Bah-bah-bah-bah-da-da-da-bah-bah-bah-da-da-da-bah-bah-bah-da-da-da.” (From the chorus – if you hear it, you will appreciate it.)

“Henrietta’s Hair” (Track 4): Another song that was fun when we saw Justin Roberts in concert, thanks to the silly hand motions. This one relates the story of Henrietta, a young girl who hated to have her long hair “brushed or cut or combed or curled or even touched” (sound familiar to any parents out there?) so “one day her mom just left it there.” Pretty soon, a ladybug took up residence in Henrietta’s hair, followed by “creepy crawly things and birds with colored wings.” A really amusing song, and it features a Bob Dillon reference – classic.

Favorite line: “So this mosquito in a nest said I hate to be a pest, but let’s not forget to write our moms lots of letters, and that we are merely guests.”

“From Scratch” (Track 6): I don’t know that this would make my kids’ top 5, but it is by far my sentimental favorite on this album, maybe because I loved how my grandmothers made everything from scratch (I’m sure Cera and Anthony will appreciate details like that as they get older). And this is one of those songs that just makes Justin Roberts’ voice shine.

Favorite line: “Grandma, I don’t know what you did when you were cooking, but you made my dad look like a kid when he was looking.”

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