Good Morning Gus
Look at My Belly
First Appeared at The Music Box, April 2003, Volume 10, #4
Written by John Metzger
The dissolution of the New Jersey-based band From Good Homes may have been a sad moment for the groupís fans. But one certainly must rejoice in the music that has come forth from its various members in recent years. Itís no secret that Todd Sheaffer went on to form the remarkable Railroad Earth, but bass player Brady Rymer has quietly built a niche for himself within the childrenís market.
Rymerís first solo outing Good Morning, Gus finds him re-teaming with former bandmate Dan Myers ó though Sheaffer, Jamie Coan, and Patrick Fitzsimmons also pop up here and there ó to create a warm, acoustic-tinged album of songs written for and inspired by his first child. Throughout the disc, Rymer incorporates elements of folk, country, rock, and pop to form a series of pleasing melodies unlikely to fray the nerves of adults, while holding the attention of children. Itís not surprising that this is a difficult path to walk as the two sides undoubtedly are diametrically opposed, and for certain, they do tug at one another quite frequently over the course of the album. On the one hand, the title track as well as íTil My Dying Day are loving wishes written from father to son that will melt the hearts of parents everywhere, though children might be less than enthused. Similarly, Last Night in Utero is pretty hilarious for adults, but it is probably somewhat puzzling for kids. At the other end of the spectrum are songs like You Gotta Eat Your Fruits and Bumbliní Bumble Bee ó bouncy little ditties that wear a little thin, largely because they seemingly beg for childrenís choruses, though thankfully Rymer resists the urge to provide them. The rest of the tunes fall somewhere in between, blending playful lyrics with bucolic arrangements that often recall The Beatles, The Band, Arlo Guthrie, and Roger McGuinn.
Rymerís recently released follow-up Look at My Belly presents a similar marriage of styles, and as a whole, it actually works a little bit better than its predecessor. For this outing, he occasionally incorporates the voice of his child into the songs, though he largely manages to keep it from becoming overly obnoxious. Elsewhere, Rymer gets delightfully upbeat on Itís All How You Look at It and Water, Sand, Blocks, and Clay, and touchingly sentimental on Upside Down Boy.
Admittedly, both of Rymerís albums are geared a bit more towards parents with little boys than those with little girls. Still, itís a genuinely difficult task to find childrenís music that is this pleasing to adults, while remaining fun for children.
Good Morning, Gus ó
Look at My Belly ó Ĺ
Look at My Belly is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box