Wednesday, September 27, 2006

***Farmer Jason***

Leave it to this guy to make the forest seem like the coolest place in the world! For his second kids' album, Farmer Jason leaves the ranch for a while and takes us on a trip through the woods. Rockin' in the Forest with Farmer Jason not only rocks harder in some places than his first CD for kids, A Day at the Farm - both of which are now available on the Kid Rhino label - but the songs are also more varied on Forest, making this follow-up an even stronger collection than Farm, if that's possible.

The album kicks off with chugging guitars, melodic trumpets, and a pennywhistle guiding us through "The Forest Oh!" Jason shows his rockin' roots with "Punk Rock Skunk", an all-out rocker that fades with a gang of kids chanting "Hey Ho, Let's Go!", as well as with the "File Under: Anarchy in the Pre-K" suggestion on the CD cover. Sly music biz dig: "There's a lot of singers smell / and they end up with a hit".

"Ode to a Toad" uses Dylan's "Hurricane" groove to tell the story of a ... well ... toad! Jason then channels Woodie Guthrie on the brief a capella tune, "Mrs. Mouse". You can play a guessing game with Farmer Jason on the Bo-Diddley-beat "Forest Rhymes", a song that, I must admit, is soothing to these Deep Southern ears, as Farmer Jason pronounces the word "cheer" with three syllables (chu-ae-uhr).

Todd Snyder then joins the fun on the boistrous "He's a Moose on the Loose", a jaunty "Sugar Shack"-meets-the-Tijuana Brass rocker; while "Arrowhead", besides being a beautifuly-written tune, may be the only kids' song penned specifically about the Shawnee Tribe.

"Catfish Song" rumbles along like that whiskered critter on a riverbed bottom, then Webb Wilder contributes some blazin' guitar work on the rocker "Opossum in a Pocket". The jazzy, spoken-word "A Butterfly Speaks" lets us listen in as a butterfly ponders the reason he's called a butterfly; and the album ends with "The Old Oak Tree", a majestic country song about that mighty timber.

Jason's strengths as a songwriter are evident on Rockin' in the Forest, as he knows just when to use double-tracked lead vocals, when to drop in a second or third harmony, and how to hook the listener with incredibly singalongable choruses. It's no surprise, then, that Ringenberg just signed a songwriting deal with Lionsgate Music & Publishing, a move that will introduce his songs to a wider audience. More recognition = more opportunities to make music = more Farmer Jason CDs! See you in the forest!