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Caspar Babypants - Here I Am!

This President Makes a Winning Kids' Album

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)


Kids Music
Courtesy Aurora Elephant Music
Caspar Babypants, AKA Chris Ballew, delivers a debut children's album that's full of witty, wordy, silly, gentle, quietly acoustic new traditional tunes. Here I Am! is definitely the best of the best kids' music of 2009.

Who is Caspar Babypants?

Chris Ballew once fronted The Presidents of the United States of America, an indie pop trio from Seattle who used their sense of humor and unique instrumentation to garner a couple of Top 40 hits during the mid-'90s, including "Kitty," "Lump," and "Peaches." On Here I Am!, Ballew translates his musical vibe into kids' tunes that, well, aren't really that different from his grownup songs!

The Music of Caspar Babypants

Ballew's childhood fascination with bugs, and his adult interest in traditional music, really shows on Here I Am!. Like many ancient folk tunes, almost half the songs on Here I Am! are about insects or animals, and Ballew has said himself that he was inspired specifically by Spider John Koerner (of Koerner, Ray & Glover) on songs like "Brown and Lonely Worm."

Ballew fills Here I Am! with silly story songs like the brief "Bug in the Cuff," with wistfully thoughtful tunes like the quiet "Poor Dust Bunnies," and with beautiful barroom piano ballads like "Bright Bug." He has fun with words with the tongue-twisting "Let the S Go," is one with the birds with the tender melancholy of "Calling from Clouds," and lets his songwriting skills shine with the very late-period Beatles-y lullaby "Sleeping Baby."

Several of the tunes on Here I Am! could be hits on Indie Rock Radio: the audience participation song "Little Broken Truck," the supercatchy "Free Like a Bird," the dream-like "Monkey River," and the chooglin' "Baby Bear."

More Music from Caspar Babypants

The oddball lyrics of the vaudeville-y "Baby in a Corn Tree" are reminiscent of Ballew's work with The Presidents (and bears a more than passing resemblance to "Lady Madonna"), while "The Island Hop" sounds like a Hawaiian Woody Guthrie song. Ballew also reworks several old folk tunes on Here I Am!, including "Leather-Winged Bat" (as "Brown and Lonely Worm"), "Three Blind Mice," "Shortnin' Bread," "Billy Pringle," and "Freres Jacques."

Here I Am! is pretty much percussionless, except for a shaker here and there, or the muted strum of an acoustic guitar's strings. The album was recorded, produced, and mixed extremely well for a bare-bones indie recording, done entirely by Ballew in his back yard studio. The sound, though, remains warm and inviting, as if you're sitting right there with Ballew as he plays these little tunes on his guitar, harmonium, and ukulele.

The Verdict

Caspar Babypants' Here I Am! is an endless string of catchy, quiet, and imaginative songs that'll put a smile on your face. It's easy to see that Ballew didn't force the songs, that he didn't set out to write a "children's album:" these are images, tunes, and thoughts that might pop into a real kid's head.

Like Ballew has said in interviews, he left behind the irony and double entendres of The Presidents' music, but kept the fun, catchy melodies and imaginative, thought-provoking lyrics. Let's hope Chris Ballew keeps the Caspar Babypants moniker and gives us another album as good as his debut.

This is modern folk music at its best, and some of these tunes are destined to become classics. Wonderful songs for the entire family, Caspar Babypants' Here I Am! definitely tops the list of the best kids' music of 2009.

Released February 14, 2009; Aurora Elephant Music

Track Listing

  1. "Small Black Ant"
  2. "Little Broken Truck"
  3. "Brown and Lonely Worm"
  4. "Free Like a Bird"
  5. "Baby Bear"
  6. "Three Blind Mice"
  7. "Baby in a Corn Tree"
  8. "Heard a Bird"
  9. "Babies Little Self"
  10. "Run Away"
  11. "The Island Hop"
  12. "Under a Rock"
  13. "Bug in the Cuff"
  14. "Shortnin' Bread"
  15. "Let the S Go"
  16. "Billy Pringle"
  17. "Poor Dust Bunnies"
  18. "Freres Jacques"
  19. "Bright Bug"
  20. "Monkey River"
  21. "Calling from Clouds"
  22. "Sleeping Baby"
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
Here I Am, Member eldne

This is a super CD. From little kids to grandparents they all love the songs and soon are found singing along. Have given this CD to many of our friends with grand children They all tell us what a great time their kids and grand kids have listening to this album. P.S. Keep up the great work C.B.

2 out of 2 people found this helpful.

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