Kids have so many questions and one of the things that I love is getting asked a question that makes me go “hmmmm….” and then talking through the possible answers to that question. I am fascinated by the way our mind works and watching my daughter take in and process the world around her is a bit like magic. I tend to forget that so much of what I see and experience on a daily basis is something that she is experiencing for the first time. Music is one of the main mediums that provoke these questions which is why I am so pleased to talk about Dean Jones‘ new album, When the World was New.
When the World Was New, is a unique album which explores evolution, mother nature, the absurdity of human nature, community and of course, music. Jones illustrates how these elements coincide as he pensively wanders (and wonders) over topics such as how life was at the beginning of time in the title track, “When the World Was New.” I particularly love the lyrics “Well they always had music/ and they drew with sticks/ there was time for leisure/ and they could get their kicks without the tick tock tick of time.” “A Sparrow’s Soul,” a song that explores the circle of life and poses the lovely question “Does a caterpillar have a heart/ Does it quietly sing?” These questions spawned a long conversation between my bug loving 4 1/2 year old who once brought home about 10 caterpillars from the playground. Editor’s note: all 10 of the caterpillars safely made it through metamorphosis and we even discovered that one of them was a butterfly!
Other songs Emily and I enjoy grooving to are “Prehensile Grip,” a fancy phrase which gives meaning to why we can grip things like a pencil or scissors. It’s also a great companion should you find yourself rationalizing with a tot about why using a fork for those greasy buttered noodles is a really good idea (Ahem). Jones brings the funk in “Snail Mail,” a groovy tune that reinforces the beauty of a handwritten letter. And “Outshining Nomads” never fails to get repeated plays. It’s a wacky tune about a traveling band of jolly circus performers. I particularly love the song for a couple of nerdy reasons. First, the composition is made up of all kinds of layered harmonies, whether it’s an added distortion during the melody or a haunting echo during the chorus. Second, I love how the catchy chorus “fifteen men on the dead men’s chest/ yo ho ho and a bottle of rum” was integrated into the song. It fits perfectly despite it actually being part of a fictional sea-song that was originally featured in the famous novel, Treasure Island.
While most of the songs are exploratory in nature, there are songs that send a message in support of peace. “Peace in the Valley” speaks about standing up for a particular cause against those who might disrupt peace in our world and our future (“…tyrants and despots/ get ready for a great big fall“) while one of my favorites, “Stand With Me,” featuring Shamsi Rhue’s gorgeous vocals, touches upon the idea that the future is uncertain but we can remain strong by comforting, respecting and supporting one another.
When the World Was New is an enriching piece of art for the whole family. Jones is a skillful musician who deftly creates an environment that fosters a child’s sense of curiosity and imagination. It is a rare gem in the world of children’s music and one that shines more brightly with every listen. Highly recommended for ages 4 – 8.