Some Assembly Required

Music review by
Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Common Sense Media
Some Assembly Required Music Poster Image
Friendly and fun, but not the best Chapin.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Good messages about environmental issues.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that many of these songs are sentimental and cloying and might start driving you crazy after a while.

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What's the story?

Arrangements range from classic bluegrass-style ("Puppy at the Pound," "I Like My Nose") to show-tune-production number ("Bill Bailey, Get Yourself Back Home," "How I Became A Clown") to full-tilt cornball ("I'm the Only Me," "The Happiest Song I Know," and "Only One Shoe," which is sung as a duet with Vanessa Williams) on SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED, Tom Chapin's newest children's album.

Is it any good?

The 15 songs are well-performed as always, but Mr. Chapin's voice sounds strained and weary, and many of the arrangements are either syrupy-corny or complex and hard to follow. Lyrics are clever but not brilliant. The CD sounds friendly and is sometimes funny, but doesn't break any new ground.

Gently affirming, Tom Chapin isn't afraid of "message" songs, and the messages are darn good ones...but even the funny tunes will tweak parental sincero-meters, and the serious ones are intense and heavy-handed. The musicianship is excellent, the production lush and loving. But the whole project comes off as a self-serious stylistic mish-mosh, and it's hard to imagine most of the kids we know falling in love with these songs. A little more subtlety and playfulness would go a long, long way.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Chapin's environmental message.

Music details

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