Move Your Boots
I have memories of listening to tapes of children’s music as a child, and even at such a young age, being hyper-aware of the overly simplistic and sometimes condescending nature of the songs. If only I had Bramble Jam to listen to. Their album Move Your Boots is a delightful mixture of music and vocals with integrity, fun, easy, and repetitive verses, in addition to lyrics that highlight everyday events of a child’s life that are both on a child’s level and relatable for parents.
Jason Kern, Jessie Griffiths, Asa Brebner, Jay Janney, and Pam Manning produced, wrote, and performed the pieces on this album, and the end product evidences their collective musical knowledge. The album explores different styles, from country to folk to reggae. Their vocals are straight-forward and often include complex harmonies, while the instrumental component is stable, skilled, and devoid of cheesy uses of Celeste or xylophone I used to associate with children’s music. Their website states that this album has “no preservatives or high fructose-modified-hydrogenated anything. It's real music that parents (or grandparents) and kids can just listen to and enjoy.”
The lyrics often include repetition that children can quickly latch on to, learning counting, patterns, and memorization. “Going to a Party,” for example, is a fun song that counts and lists different groups going to a party, including goats, monkeys, and kids. “Too Tall Small” is a silly song in the spirit of a limerick, with plenty of repetition and a focus on rhyme. “Five Little Piggies” is a play on the “little piggie” game that also features counting and repetition.
Other songs are fun and relatable to parents’ experience. Every parent can chuckle at “Pancakes,” which features the voices of a tired mommy and daddy awoken too early by children who want homemade pancakes; they pass the duty back and forth to each other, claiming the other has superior breakfast-making abilities, down to toaster-pastry making. “Mommy’s Lost Her Marbles” is an in-joke of sorts for working parents, whose Sunday nights precluding another week can be hectic; the joke that mommy “lost her marbles” is lost on the child, who narrates the song.
Songs like “Big Brother Blues” deal with issues children commonly deal with, like sibling rivalry. The lyrics are positive and empower each child listening to be proud of their own abilities. “Jack Came Back” details the worry one can feel when the family pet runs away or is hurt.
This album is quite an accomplishment, and I recommend it to any parents wishing to expose their children to music that will speak on their level without giving up musical integrity.