For some recording artists, children's music is a pit stop. Others flit in and out, whenever the occasion (or material) is right. For an elite few, making children's music becomes a vocation. I'm not saying they can make a full-time living at it; that's a fantasy fulfilled by the top one percent. But their ventures are always worthwhile, the music and lyrics are playful and joyful, and adults and kids alike can't wait to hear what's on the disc. Which is why I'm happy to share a few thoughts about KEY WILDE AND MR. CLARKE and their brand new CD, ANIMAL TALES.
The New York-based duo have a long and colorful history, together and separately (read their bios if you have the time). Their recordings for kids have been celebrated by SiriusXM's Kids Place Live and their videos have blown up on Youtube. ANIMAL TALES, their fourth CD, is not your father's "here's a mammal, here's a reptile" collection of tunes. These are kids tunes with 'tude. "Animal Island" creates a fantasy paradise stocked with creates of all persuasions and delineates how different our priorities are from theirs. "Alligator Get-Together" is a lazy country tale with plenty of backwater twanging guitars. It also delivers a powerful message about extinction. "Larry the Lobster" introduces some underwater denizens and tells their stories:
Herman the hermit crab lives in his shell
He's friends with two anemones who live there as well
But when he moves to a new shell he'll bid them farewell
He says, "With friends like me, who needs anemones?"
Play "The Bear Song" for your kids and introduce them to all eight species of bear. Created for an international conference at The Woodlands Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey, the song made a splash online with its whimsical tone and easy to watch graphics.
Mr. Clarke's UK and French upbringing gives an offbeat perspective to the music (while not turning it into a world music project). Key Wilde grew up in Texas, branding a track like "Armando Armadillo" with a cultural gravitas. His original artwork and graphic design also make their videos and cover artwork stand out from the pack.
ANIMAL TALES is the duo's second collaboration with ace producer Dean Jones
(Dog on Fleas) and equals the durability and competence of last year's
PLEASED TO MEET YOU. Jones's comic sensibilities shine through on tracks
like "The Buck Stops Here," where Wlide and Clarke sing, "I've been
here for a year and I ain't seen a single deer." It's been more than a year since their last collection. These ANIMAL TALES are a welcome menagerie for any child's musical education.
ANIMAL TALES is available October 21 through Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke's website, Amazon, and iTunes.
Here is the video for THE BEAR SONG: