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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Jonathan Sprout

American Heroes 4

Review by Gary Hill

It can sometimes be a daunting task to review children’s albums. For one thing, they can be a little hard for adults to take. Secondly, it’s hard to tell what will gain traction with kids short of turning it on and seeing how children react. Well, I didn’t do that with this disc, but I think that the choruses are infectious enough and the music energetic enough that kids should love this. The thing is, adults should like most of it quite a bit, too. One thing that’s pretty common in kids’ music these days is autotuned or otherwise processed vocals. For the most part Jonathan Sprout avoids that annoyance. Only one song has it and that’s good. This is a fun experience that should appeal to both kids and adults. If you’ve ever had a kid play the same disc over and over and over for days, you know how important that is, really. It’s also got some positive messages and is learning that’s also fun.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Unstoppable

The vocals here are definitely in keeping with children’s music, but that doesn’t mean this song won’t appeal to adults. In many ways the music seems almost progressive rock like. At times I’m reminded of The Buggles in terms of the music. The lyrics are very positive and this is a great tune.

Come With Me!
This has some of that processed vocal approach that seems so popular in kids’ music these days. Beyond that, though, this is an energetic keyboard based tune that’s pretty catchy. I love some of the keyboard soloing later in the tune.
E=mc2
You’ve got to love a song about Albert Einstein. The thing is, this is meaty even if you look beyond that. It’s another that has some progressive rock in the musical mix. The vocals are more adult-music like than some of the other stuff. Yet it’s catchy and should still appeal to kids. This is fun.
Hall of Fame
The piano bit that starts this is great. Then the cut gets some rather jazzy elements courtesy of the horns and vocals. It drops way down for the verse. There is a Latin element here and a tasty guitar solo. This is one of the most powerful and accessible cuts. It’s one that works well no matter the listener’s age. It’s also one of the highlights.
Man in the Arena
Another powerhouse rocker, this has a lot of progressive rock in the mix, too. It’s another that’s a strong crossover that should appeal to all ages equally well. It’s also another standout.
Through the Eyes of a Child
This isn’t perhaps as instantly accessible as some of the other stuff, but it’s got a catchy hook. The music is also a little progressive rock oriented.
Powerful
This has one of the catchiest hooks of the whole disc. It’s a great tune, too.
Dr. Seuss
Bouncy, goofy and fun, what else would you expect for a song about Dr. Seuss? This is just so crazy and twisted and yet catchy.
Interconnected
Another piece that has some progressive rock elements, this is catchy and just seems to invite the listener to singalong.
Heads, Hearts, and Hands
There’s a real soulful, gospel music kind of vibe to this piece. It’s another that’s strong no matter the age group. The retro organ sound and the fast paced church music motif later are both classic.
I See a Hero
An anthemic number, this is a great tune and an excellent way to close the set in style.

           

 
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