With many children's music albums struggling to crack the 30-minute mark, defining the length of a children's music EP is a tricky proposition. At just under 19 minutes long, the 2005 debut album from Los Angeles-based musician Parker Bent is either a long EP or a really short full album. Still, Bent packs a surprisingly diverse group of songs into the short runtime.
Bent is a preschool music teacher in Beverly Hills, California, and his subjects -- the alphabet, numbers, or pets, for example -- will be very familiar to preschoolers or their parents. One of my favorite songs on the album is the gentle pop-rock tune "I Wanna Go Home," about a preschooler who's reached his or her sensory limit, is tired, and just wants to go home. My other favorite track is "Count On," whose melody and fuzzy-guitar-and-handclap instrumentation reminds me of the rootsier "Tuesday Night Music Club"-era Sheryl Crow.
The vocal harmonizing on the brief acappella leadoff track "AAA" is totally different from the the above songs, but a nice bit of musical styling nonetheless. The humorous storytelling stylings of "I Am Your New Music Teacher" may be over the heads of the 3-year-olds in the audience, but with Bent playing the role of a controlling music teacher, his snarled lyrics, "We will not have any singing / We will not have any dancing / Instead I thought we'd spend / The entire music class / With everybody sitting in timeout" made me smile. The entire album has a gentle, albeit sly, sense of humor.
The album will probably be of most interest to kids age 3 to 6. You can hear samples of the CD and purchase it at Bent's CDBaby page. It's also available on iTunes Music Store.
Regular readers of this website will probably find at least one or two tracks worth checking out on the album. Even with its short length, the album shows Bent's promise as a children's songwriter and musician. Should Bent ever decide to release a double album (at, say, 38 minutes in length), it could be very, very good.