Friday, October 12, 2012

Clean Shave for Zak Morgan's Beastly Kids CD

I'm not close-minded. There is the stereotype of getting older and liking fewer and fewer things. You break that stereotype by having children, and being (sometimes forcibly) introduced to new things. And y'know what? Many new things turn out to be pretty darn good.

Which brings me to Zak Morgan. The Cincinnati, Ohio-based native opens his new CD, THE BARBER OF THE BEASTS, with an orchestrated "Overture," then proceeds right into "First Grade:"

I eat my lunch at school
I gobble up my gruel
I feel like a jewel now that I'm in first grade.
This is where we learn and play
We get recess twice a day
Everyone should find a way to be in the first grade.

Seussical and clean, in the vein of Shel Silverstein. The title track tells the story of Nicola Picariello, who sets up his barber shop in the jungle and "can make a lion look like a French poodle." With strings and woodwinds in addition to guitars and piano, Morgan creates a winning style of children's music that is unlike the majority of the popular current artists.

We are currently experiencing a renaissance in the children's music scene. Beethoven's Wig covers classical. The Jimmies handle rock. Dan Zanes is a gentlemen folksinger/storyteller. Every region and every country has their own local superstar, just waiting for the "big break" that takes them national a la Stevesongs. Perhaps Zak Morgan is ready for larger venues outside the Ohio Valley.

Morgan cut his musical teeth performed for family audiences at Paradise Guest Ranch in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. He moved to New York City in 1995 to work for Recorded Books, a leading publisher of audiobooks, and spent four years immersed in the rich offerings of children's literature. His second CD, WHEN BULLFROGS CROAK, received a Grammy nomination, a rare feat for an independent release.

"The White Shark's Chum" tells a tale about a pirate (Captain Yum), a clever girl (Fast Phoebe), and a predator that follows the vessel bearing its name. Whenever someone walks the plant, they become fish food. Hence, the title of the song (and the boat). If you miss the point, Morgan even sings, "It's a double entendre."

Morgan is not all fun and games, though. He winds down the CD with a sweet ballad, "Let Me In:"

A human house of cards can crumble
But never when the heart is humble
Do you see the Light above you?
Do you know I'll always love you

Let me in

Morgan fills the niche between TUBBY THE TUBA and MEET THE ORCHESTRA. His tunes are filled with wordplay and don't stray far from their target audience, with an occasional wink for parents. THE BARBER OF THE BEASTS comes with a lavishly illustrated booklet, including lyrics with a twist: Specific words are highlighted and explained in a glossary to help expand your childrens' vocabularies. The song "Mister E" defines the words melancholy, mope, femme fatale, misanthrope, miscellaneous, misconstrue, and mistletoe, among others.

THE BARBER OF THE BEASTS is the fourth release from myKaZoo Music, a new family music label created in partnership with Universal Music Enterprises (UMe). Zak Morgan’s videos are in high rotation on, their music video channel for kids.

THE BARBER OF THE BEASTS is available on October 30 through Zak Morgan's website, CDBABY, Amazon, and iTunes.
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