When ROBERT M. CHARDE sent me a copy of his new family album, FOR LITTLE EARS OF TENDER YEARS, my immediate response was to admire the cover art – a well-dressed, quite dapper-looking banjo-playing iguana that wouldn’t be a bit out of place adorning an album by LES CLAYPOOL or PRIMUS. While the cover art was surprising, it wasn’t as much of a surprise as the music contained within.
Entirely written and almost entirely performed and recorded by Charde himself, this 10-song collection is impressive, striking an unexpected chord. In a lot of ways, FOR LITTLE EARS OF TENDER YEARS carries a classic MUPPETS vibe… that of the Paul Williams-era of songwriting, rich in harmony and instrumentation. Perhaps not intended, but it’s easy for this listener to imagine Kermit (or an iguana) kicking back with that banjo, while Emmet Otter’s Jugband practices down the street. There’s a fantastically nostalgic feel that comes complete with some great storytelling as well.
Listen to previews from the album:
Technically released in late 2013, this is one of my favorites of 2014 so far, with songs like “Play,” “I’m An Iguana,” “Hello” and “Jean Lafitte” getting quite a bit of play here at Rock Father HQ… even after the kids have gone to bed. At just 22-minutes in total runtime, it falls right into that 30-minutes-or-less sweet spot that I prefer for Kids and Family releases.
There doesn’t seem to be a big promotional push behind this record thus far, so hopefully word-of-mouth will help carry it. It’s an album worth hearing.