11 Family Music Albums, Including Concept Albums on Mental Health, Community, and More

From debut artists to returning favorites, these 11 family music albums cover a wide range of musical styles and topics.


 

Adults These Days. Performed by Greg Lato. CD. $8.99. Digital download. $8.99. 30 min. Greg Lato Music. 2022.
Rhode Island–based singer/songwriter Greg Lato’s second album for children is filled with non-stop fun and nonsense. Featuring nine feel-good tracks of family music, it has a retro vibe that will stir up feelings of nostalgia in adults. Opening with the percussive, funky tune “New Lunchbox” (a story song about a child’s new lunchbox bringing social success at school that day), Lato performs original songs that address kids’ needs with aplomb. Other songs include a track about the joys of summer with a rap in the bridge (“Relive This Song Again”) and a tune about belonging (“Everybody Needs Someone”). One catchy number with great harmonies reminds children that their parents were once kids (“Adults These Days”), and another encourages listeners to be grateful for all they have (“Thankful”). Lato channels Adam Levine in the funky pop celebration “My Birthday Party” and highlights vocalist Becky Bass’s scat singing in “What Kind of Animal Would You Be?” Lullaby “Sweetest Dream of All ‘’ and spoken story “The Bike in the Tree” round out the collection. VERDICT Lato’s fans will gobble this one up.–Stephanie Bange

Aliens, Astronauts, and Asteroids! Performed by Steve Pullara and His Cool Beans Band. Digital download. $9.49. 42 min. Cool Beans Music. 2022.
For his 14th album, GRAMMY winner Steve Pullara pulls out all the stops to launch kids into outer space. The 14 original, high-octane songs on this concept album are STEAM-themed and will keep youngsters whirling and twirling from blast-off to splash down. Many tunes contain positive messages woven with the theme of space. Each is well-arranged with a wide range of musical styles. As always, Pullara injects cheer and pep into his performance. His band and vocalists are rock solid. Several tracks end with a tag of unrelated science-sounding music, ostensibly to segue into the next song. The result is a bit jarring at times, but it helps keep the space vibe going. Highlights include Trevor Sewell on lead guitar in “One Small Step” (a song about one step leading to another so one day, the listener might be an astronaut), “The Supernova Bossa Nova” (a techno-pop bossa nova that details what a supernova is and features “Twinkle Time” harmonies), “Blow Your Nose in Outer Space” (a rockabilly tune that channels Elvis Presley and discusses gravity), and the ominous closer, “Alien Babies From Outer Space” (another techno-pop tune with strong percussion about aliens coming to take us away from Earth). VERDICT This will add a toe-tapping, far-out element to story times about aliens, astronauts, and space.–Stephanie Bange

The Greats! Performed by Louis & Dan and the Invisible Band. CD. $12. ­Digital download. $12. 30 min. Louis & Dan and the Invisible Band. 2022.
Minnesota-based Louis and Dan are back with their fourth album for families—a new collection that celebrates musical stylings and performers from times gone by. Once again, the duo has written a compilation of original tunes featuring clever lyrics that tell a story. Only this time, the songs are paired with melodies that recall the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, the Beach Boys, the Supremes, and more. The music is so rich and layered that fans will have to listen carefully to catch the full tales of the gremlin in the kitchen, the giraffe who sings about not being able to sing, and a pet slug. Louis and Dan are joined on two tracks by the tremendously talented Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, whose vocals make the swinging “I Love to Sing” feel like a show tune and bring the Chicago blues to an ode to BBQ in “Put it on the Barbeque.” A delightful highlight is the song “Please Be Normal.” Performed by Dan’s daughter Eleanor, this tune is particularly hilarious as she sings about all the things that Dan and Louis do that are embarrassing to a teenager and pleads with them to “please be normal.” The final new song is “A Lullaby,” a tune that Dan used to sing to his children when they were young. VERDICT This tribute to “The Greats” puts the duo firmly among today’s greats in family music.– Veronica Schwartz De Fazio

In the Pocket! Performed by Uncle Devin. Digital download. $11.49. 37 min. The Uncle Devin Show, LLC. 2022.
The first children’s go-go album by Washington, D.C.–based entertainer “Uncle Devin” Walker is super family-friendly. ­Go-go is a subgenre of funk that originated in D.C. during the mid-1960s. It is strong on percussion with a unique syncopated beat and often has a call-response. Walker provides all percussion and sings lead on most of the 13 songs. Several tunes have a featured singer, including: “A Go-Go Fun Day” (­Alexa Givens on a hip-hopping tune about a family trip to the zoo), “The Opposites of Life” (Kymberly Stewart calls and Walker responds with the opposite), “Caravan” (GRAMMY-nominated rapper Groovy Nate and ­Elnathan Starnes shine in this cover of the classic Duke Ellington tune), and “Jump to the Beat Go-Go Remix” (GRAMMY winner Father Goose Music leads this jumping ­activity filled with rap and reggae). Several ditties provide smooth segues into longer songs. VERDICT This album proves that percussion rocks!–Stephanie Bange

It’s Me, Ronnie Boy! Performed by Ronnie Boy Kids. 30 min. Digital download. $9.49. Ronnie Boy Kids. 2022.
Ronnie Boy, or Ron Nery, Jr., hits a wide variety of unexpected musical genres on his debut album for children. Each of the 10 songs sound unique, with melodies that call to mind hip-hop, reggae pop, alternative rock, and house music. Although at times that gives the album a bit of an unusual edge, it is the lyrics that solidly land in children’s music. Topics covered include cleaning up your toys, the importance of believing in yourself, sharing smiles, appreciating all styles and colors of hair, chasing monsters away, and the love for Grandma. Ronnie’s Boy’s enthusiasm for his subjects can be felt throughout. VERDICT A fresh take on children’s music that will be welcomed by many families.–Veronica Schwartz De Fazio

Mammal Music. Performed by Marko Polo. CD. $11. Digital download. $7. 30 min. Marko Polo. 2022.
Marko Polo’s debut children’s album embraces the world in which we live and all the creatures that inhabit it. Filled with the kindie rock spirit, Marko Polo (aka Mark ­Pagano) crafted a collection of 10 original songs that begins with a wide view of “Planet Earth” and gradually narrows focus to animals, such as worms, salamanders, lions, and monkeys, before homing in on humans. The last third of the album touches on how we are all similar and can adapt and change because of our “Big Brains,” while also emphasizing the importance of exercising our “Heart ­Muscle” because it’s the “chakra of love.” The album closes by taking listeners into space once again to appreciate the lunar wonders in “Moon Song.” VERDICT Fans of Justin ­Roberts will welcome Marko Polo to the family music scene.–Veronica Schwartz De Fazio

Mil Colores. Performed by Nathalia. Digital download. $9.99. 47 min. NathaliaMusica. 2022. BL
Colombian-born singer and songwriter Nathalia returns with her fifth bilingual album for children. Each song in this collection is beautifully crafted with gorgeous melodies and lyrics that encourage listeners to explore themes of empowerment and discovery. Seven of the songs are performed in Spanish with two of those offered in English as well, and one that is offered in an instrumental version. The opening track, “Arcoíris en mi Corazón” highlights the colors of the rainbow and the feelings that go along with them and is followed by a celebration of Frida Kahlo, a tribute to female poets, an exploration of the five senses, and a powerful song recognizing that on the outside we may be different, but on the inside we are alike. Also included are two bilingual songs, “Unplug and Play” and “Let’s Go to the Beach.” Nathalia is joined by a host of talented vocalists and musicians to create a true musical treat. The lyrics to all the songs in Spanish and English, as well as background information for each song, are available on Nathalia’s website. VERDICT No matter what language you speak, this album is a must-have.–Veronica Schwartz De Fazio

Mosaic. Performed by Jumpin’ Jamie. Digital download. $9.49. 33 min. Jumpin’ Jamie. 2022.
Jumpin’ Jamie’s third album takes two concepts—inclusion and mental health—that are not often explored in children’s music and makes them human and beautiful. Most of the songs pack a wallop with their strong beats and driving rock sound; they will make listeners want to join in and dance and sing along. Every song has a unique sound, as Jamie features different musicians to perform each. Their stunning duet with Amanda Aulicino in “Eye of the Beholder” draws attention to how we can interpret things differently. “Truth Bomb” (a number about the need to vent anger) has a spylike vibe to it with its heavy bass and distinctive guitar. The songs “They” (about choosing your own pronoun) and “Mosaic” (the only ballad in the bunch describes humans as pieces of a mosaic: all different, unique, and beautiful in our own way) are performed by a host of talents—some have a disability, some are BIPOC, and some are from the LGBTQIA+ community. Other topics include the need to empathize with others and express frustration. VERDICT A necessary addition to music for children to build empathy for others and for those who don’t see themselves in today’s music.–Stephanie Bange

The Movement. Performed by Alphabet Rockers. Digital download. $8.99. 48 min. School Time Music. 2022.
For their latest concept album, Alphabet Rockers seek “Unity in Community.” They want whole families to understand their ­personal power, combat biases, disrupt systems of oppression, and find community. One of the things done to achieve this was to ask their families what made them feel powerful and powerless while in quarantine. This album is the result. It is a powerful collection of 12 songs and a poem. Rap and R&B music work together to convey the powerful words in ­every single song, with the group’s teens ­contributing to the lyrics in all songs. Each carries a stellar meaning: for example, “Power Up” (encouragement to tap into your inner ­power), “Strength in Numbers” (how to effect change by working together), “The Change Up” (commentary on how the prison system does not expect change in behavior, so represses change), and “Games” (about people playing others and stereotyping). Two guest artists appear on the album; featured on the rap song “Juneteenth” is rapper Fyütch and on “The Word Is Love” is singer/musician Mista Cookie Jar. VERDICT This important album should have an impact on the whole family who listens to it.–Stephanie Bange

​​​​​​​Multiply. Performed by The Wise ­Channel. Digital download. $9.49. 37 min. TooWise Productions. 2022.
The Wise Channel began as a YouTube channel featuring the Wise family—­Ceylon, Ashley, and their two sons. Over the past several years they have created entertaining and educational songs and videos. With this debut album, the family takes edutainment to another level. Featuring guests like Snooknuk, Lucy Kalantari, Roy Moy III, and Kymberly Stewart, the Wise family not only makes math fun, but provides songs that children will want to listen to again and again. Pop, funk, and R&B rule the melodies as each track focuses on one number and how it multiplies out. Not only are listeners instructed in the ways of the times tables, but they also learn to count to 20 in Spanish along the way. ­ VERDICT Forget flash cards; all you need is The Wise Channel to make multiplication fun.–Veronica Schwartz De Fazio

Musiquita. Performed by Musiquita. Digital download. $9.99. 49 min. Chiquirriquitica. 2022.
In their self-titled debut album, husband and wife duo Jesse Elder and Blanca ­Cecilia González offer listeners a celebration of music, language, and culture in 14 original tunes that pull from musical styles of Latin, jazz, traditional/classical, and funk. ­Opening with the boisterous icebreaker “Musiquita Theme,” the duo perform 14 original ­kid-friendly songs with lyrics in English and Spanish about things like geometric shapes (“Shape Song”), yummy mochi (“Mucho Mochi Mama”), and brushing your teeth (“Cepillar los dientes”). Highlights include “Un besito” (a tango about kissing your child that features Vitor Gonçalves on accordion and González on violin), “Unique New York” (an up-tempo tune about the joys found in the Big Apple that includes a Latin-infused bridge), and “Sopa de tomate” (opening with horns, this rap call/response about making tomato soup will have everyone joining in). VERDICT Nonstop fun from the first track to the last.–Stephanie Bange

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