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Justin Roberts - Lullaby

Justin Roberts Sings a Lullaby

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Justin Roberts - Lullaby

Justin Roberts - Lullaby

Courtesy Carpet Square Records
Known more for his Beatle-flavored powerpop tunes for older kids, Justin Roberts brings the energy level down a bit for his latest album Lullaby. Roberts didn't leave behind his gift for nifty composition, though: Lullaby is full of melodic nods to Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, James Taylor, and Carole King. And check out the nifty cover art by children's book illustrator Alison Jay.

The Artist

While teaching at a Montessori school, Justin Roberts began writing and singing songs for his young students, and independently recorded his first set of songs in 1997. Producer and college friend Liam Davis persuaded Roberts to record the songs professionally, creating what became Great Big Sun, rereleased in 1998.

Roberts' continued popularity and artistic growth resulted in his 2003 album, Not Naptime, being named a Parents' Choice Gold Award winner, and one of Parents' Choice "25 Best Children's CDs of the Past 25 Years." 2006 saw the release of Meltdown!, Roberts' most accomplished kids' CD to date. The album won yet another Parents' Choice Gold Award, was listed in Amazon.com's Top 10 Children's CDs of the Year, received a Gold Award from NAPPA, and was named the #1 Children's CD of 2006 in the Fids and Kamily Poll.

The follow-up, Pop Fly, was released in 2008 to great accolades from parents, kids, and reviewers alike, while Jungle Gym made our list of Best Kids' Music of 2010. For a more detailed profile of Justin Roberts, check out our Justin Roberts bio page.

The Music of Justin Roberts' 'Lullaby'

Lullaby quietly kicks off with the rolling harp phrase and heartbeat tempo of "Count Them As They Go," encouraging sleepy heads to let their cares run away with the sheep they are counting. The smooth, lounge jazz of "What the Stork Sent" sound like a tune Paul McCartney and The High Llamas might come up with if they ever collaborated. Fingerpicked guitar, short percussive interjections, and sweet strings give "Nothing On You" a soundtrack-like feel, while "Heart of Gold" (no, not the Neil Young classic) boasts a great, almost whispered sing along chorus. And the double-tracked vocals, sparse piano, and gliding notes of the string section of "Doing It All for You" might remind you of a quieter Ben Folds Five tune.

More Music from Justin Roberts' 'Lullaby'

Lullaby continues with a bouncy pizzicato cello and sing songy interjections from the string and brass sections, letting us know that the comforting "Polar Bear" promises to always be there for us. The half-time "No Matter How Far," with its clavinet punches, rolling drums, and great chord changes, deserves to be a soft rock radio hit, sounding like a song James Taylor might release if he still produced original music. The almost gospel-like "Easier To Do" boasts super backup harmonies, descending chords, a woozy lead guitar solo, and a great middle eight, almost like a contemporary Carole King tune. "A Wild One" will most remind you of a long lost Van Morrison song, sounding somewhat similar to his "Crazy Love," while the string-laden, album-ending "Lullaby" is full of dreamy imagery and soothing sentiments.

The Verdict

Many, many artists have released their version of what they think a lullaby album should sound like. To his credit, Justin Roberts has stuck to his creative guns in that Lullaby sounds like a Justin Roberts album, although his typical powerpop chord changes have been toned down and ringing guitars are nowhere to be heard. Which isn't a bad thing, because you don't want your little ones to be rocking out at bedtime. Roberts has a great catalog of poppy, rocking CDs for children and their families, so make sure to check out any of his past titles. But for little sleepyheads, Lullaby strikes the right chord.

Released November 19, 2012; Carpet Square Records

Track Listing

  1. "Count Them As They Go"
  2. "What the Stork Sent"
  3. "Nothing On You"
  4. "Heart of Gold"
  5. "Doing It All for You"
  6. "Polar Bear"
  7. "No Matter How Far"
  8. "Easier To Do'
  9. "A Wild One"
  10. "Lullaby"
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