Lots can happen in five years. Father Time is a tricky dude. The last time Eric Herman released a CD (2009's WHAT A RIDE!), our son Ben was eight years old. His brother Matt was... well, he wasn't even around in theory or concept.
A five-year recording gap opens Herman for a whole lot of questions, all of which get shut down in a heartbeat with the answer that his wife, Roseann, passed away in June 2013. Father Time can play some nasty tricks indeed.
The new CD, PARTY ANIMAL, lightly touches on the theme of mortality, through "Alive!" Herman's anthem for his departed spouse (although not conceived as such, since they wrote it together). And Roseann lives on through her contributions to many tracks on the CD that she either co-wrote or inspired. There's a dichotomy to having such a maudlin cloud hanging over a children's music CD. Perhaps that's why Herman sticks to business-as-usual, which involves deconstructing behavior and the simple joys of childhood.
Herman dives right in with "Up All Night," wherein the youthful vocalist strives to celebrate New Year's Eve (spoiler: He doesn't make it). The celebratory theme continues in "Party At My House," a cautionary tale for any parent attempting to save money by hosting a children's birthday event in their home. And where would you be without "A Million Ways to Play"?
Herman and his "Invisible Band" don't have many sharp edges. They're more interested in storytelling than double entendres. PARTY ANIMAL skews for younger audiences, with sparkly guitars and Partridge Family-esque keyboards.
Despite having to use a magnifying glass to examine the lyrics and liner notes on the CD case (they're not on the website as of publication), I am psyched to confirm the guest appearances of such West Coast recording artists as Recess Monkey, Caspar Babypants, and DidiPop. The first two enliven the surreal "Mime TV" and the latter harmonizes on "Can We Buy a New Car (So I Can Have a Balloon?" I somewhat reasonable request if you're under six years old:
I'll patiently wait 'til all the paperwork is done,
Then I'll hold that balloon until I'm 71.
A car is only for a while, balloons are forever.
The closet psychologist in me would infer that the balloon is a symbolic stand-in for something else. But that's just me, I guess. PARTY ANIMAL literally flies by (in less than 30 minutes). It's almost like the CD is a summation of all that happened in the past five years and now Herman is regrouping to move forward. You can't beat Father Time, but Eric Herman has found a way to make him dance.
PARTY ANIMAL is available on June 3 through Herman's website, Amazon, CDBABY, and iTunes.
Here is the new video for Herman's song, "How Big":