Lemonade by Justin RobertsSpring 2017 Music
The twelve original songs found on Justin Roberts' 13th album for families, Lemonade, features a core band of celebrated Chicago musicians. Robbie Fulks contributes lead acoustic guitar, banjo and harmony vocals, Gerald Dowd amazes on cardboard boxes, paint cans, salt shakers, plus other homemade percussion, and John Abbey is rock solid on upright bass. Roberts' excellent vocals, guitars, piano and uke are, of course, front and center. As with previous releases, we have a collection of original tunes that are squarely rooted in a child's perspective, concerns and interests. Musically, stylistically and occasionally vocally, Paul Simon's influence is ever-present, along with the nerd-rock of They Might Be Giants. The title track is Simon-esque, Graceland-like ode to a favorite beverage of choice for hot summer day. "Must Be This Tall," uses the height requirements for amusement park rides to reflect on the process of growing up, "Dodgeball" is a tribute to a much-loved sport, and "Rolling Down the Hill is a bluegrass infused invocation of the antediluvian days of youth. One of the albums many highlights is "Long as I Got You," a beautiful banjo led folk tune about parent's love and devotion to their children. One of the funniest songs is the wry perspective of "Valentine (I don't wanna be yours)," while "Me and My Kangaroo," takes a decidedly silly and surreal approach. "How Lucky We Are" is a fine song about appreciating quiet family moments, "This Is How We Bring In The Sun" relates similar sentiments, though backed by a stylish string quartet. "Tree House" celebrates the joys of a kid's treasured hide-a way, while "Eight-Legged Octopus" is a Caribbean-tinged tale of a most unusual pet, which also acting as a counting song. The album ends with the James Taylor-ish country blues of "If I Were," a song about how all roads lead to home and family. Well-designed eco-friendly packaging and full lyrics illustrate the extra care that has gone into this album; the "Thanks to" panel is a joy to read.