Wednesday, May 14, 2008

***Will Thomas***

Usually I'll wait until an artist can send me a finished CD or at least a burned CDR of premixed tracks before I post a review of their work, but I'm gonna go ahead and review demos from this performer's website because 1) his songs are that good and 2) his material fills a need.

Will Thomas will release his collection of bilingual kids' tunes in August, 2008, on an album called The Spanglish Wrangler Sings Bilingual Songs for the Whole Family. The songs are fun and funny and witty, and, most importantly to adults, stand up to repeated listenings. While Thomas has recorded grownup albums at Birdland Recording Studios in Town Creek, Alabama (very close to my hometown), he laid down the basic tracks for Spanglish Wrangler at his home studio in Miami Beach.

You can practice your Spanish vocabulary by inference in the song "Emociones"; while "(They Call It) Spanish Monday", based on T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday Blues", helps you brush up on the days of the week. "Desayuno Boogie" is a celebration of breakfast, while the swampy funk of "Broccoli" describes a girl's love of that vegetable.

"Eres Mi Vida" is a Spanish-language version of "You Are My Sunshine", and the story of "Cucaracha" is set to the music of Earth Wind and Fire's "September". "Bailla Pollito" is a funny little tale about a reluctant dancer, while "I Love My Dog" is a little reminiscent of the old classic "Down By the Bay". Additional vocab practice is provided by "Gator and Bee" and "Bear's Picnic", directions en Espanol on the former and present tense verbs on the latter ("I sing, canto, y'all sing, cantais", etc.).

Thomas' intimate, downhome, bluesy performance and playful songwriting style make this collection a perfect teaching tool in both the classroom and at home. You're not smacked in the head with ridiculously bombastic production, and the lyrics don't make kids (or adults) feel like dunces. This is a great project from an artist who is a welcome addition to the kids' music world.

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