I think the best way to introduce this review is by talking about how much stuff our daughter has. I'm not talking about massive amounts of overblown toys and games. I'm just talking about her stuffed animals, which almost crowd her out of her bed. Or her My Little Ponies, which she decorates with her ponytail holders. Kids' lives are defined as much by objects and things as they are by people -- favorite books, favorite clothes, favorite foods.
Children's music tends to focus on feelings (I'm happy! I'm sad!) or concepts (numbers, letters). But Silly Reflection, the late-2004 debut album from the South Carolina-based trio Lunch Money, draws its inspiration from kids' stuff. Trains ("Caboose"), roller coasters ("Roller Coaster," natch), umbrellas ("Umbrella") -- these are the things that fascinate kids because they've never seen such things before. Singer/songwriter Molly Ledford likes to use similes to describe these things in ways concrete ("I'd like to introduce the caboose / Last in line, red like a stop sign") and a little more abstract ("Umbrella, you're quite the little magic trick / You start off looking like a stick / But with a little rain / You bloom like a flower"). And here is a sampling of the words used on the album: "vamoose," "esprit," "ukelele," "amphibians," and the phrase "thick as thieves." These are not typical kids' music words.
But it's the music that I really dig -- it's very Kill The Moonlight-era Spoon with some Yo La Tengo and Shins mixed in. Wonderful melodies with the barest of instrumentation which make the small musical flourishes -- trumpet and double bass and fingersnaps and handclaps -- stand out that much more. It's hard for me to pick out a favorite song, but I love the way the wistful melody and harmonizing in "I Want A Dog" mixes with the longing lyrics of a child wanting a dog before getting too old (and constantly changing her mind as to the dog's name). All that, and it's wryly amusing, too. ("I look at the paper, but it's really not up to me / I'll just have to hope and look longingly.")
At 22 minutes long, Silly Reflection is short but sweet -- there isn't a bad song on the album. Lyrically, it will hit home most for kids age 3 through 7. But it really is one of those children's music albums you will find yourself playing when the kids aren't around. You can listen to three songs off the album here -- they're fairly representative of the CD, so if you like those, you'll like the rest of the album. You can buy the CD from Lunch Money direct or from the usual online suspects. Highly recommended.