A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Thadeus Rex brings his goofy spirit to a new CD filled with up-tempo songs that are neither brilliantly written nor brilliantly performed, but are cheerful, fun, and appealing.
What's the story?
Thaddeus Rex seems like a really nice guy who means well. He makes it clear in his liner notes and on his Web site that he values reading, and refers to popular children's books in his lyrics -- notably "Where can I find green eggs and ham?" He writes earnest, peppy songs about important moments in kids' lives, in between sentimental ditties about new siblings ("Pretty Diamond") and legendary family tales ("Daddy Lived in a Boxcar").
Is it any good?
Thaddeus' thin nasal vocals and monotonous, sometimes messy instrumental arrangements do get tiresome after a few tracks; the whole CD comes across as slightly flat and amateurish when compared to other recently-released, exquisitely-produced children's music. Mr. Rex is an artist who is obviously limited by his own musicianship and, for whatever reason, doesn't seem willing to call in reinforcements to add variety and depth to his sound. Not a polished singer, he relies on goofball charm without paying enough attention to the songs themselves. Most successful are "Dog Without Fur" and "Dare You," two bluesy, lively tracks that are well-suited to the singer's vocal and instrumental strengths. Crank up the reverb and enjoy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about "Pretty Diamond," sung from the point of view of a big brother about his new sister, and the complicated feelings a new sibling can inspire. There are a lot of references to Chicago on this CD and the booklet inside. Have you ever lived in Chicago, or visited there? Are your impressions of the city anything like Thaddeus'?