Tuesday, September 11, 2007

***Dean Jones***

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. This is music that you hear in your head when you're sitting on your front porch, miles from your nearest neighbor, watching the sky change colors as the sun goes down. Besides having THE absolute best album title of the year, Dean Jones' Napper's Delight is very appropriately named, as this is not a bedtime CD, but a CD to listen to before an afternoon nap, when you and your kids can contemplate the drowsy music and thought-provoking imagery of the words.

Those familiar with Dog on Fleas' work will recognize lead Flea Dean Jones' playful, cosmic lyrics, tenderly sung by Jones and guest vocalists Elizabeth Mitchell; fellow Flea Debbie Lan; and Amy Poux, founder of Working Playground, Inc., and High Meadow Arts, Inc. In fact, Jones showcases a mindboggling array of Hudson Valley talent, including the aforementioned voices, the pedal steel of Fooch Fischetti, and fellow Flea David Levine's fiddlin'.

The slightest touches of electronica mixed with the sounds of mbiras (thumb pianos) and balafons (marimba-like instruments), especially on "Tiny Fishes", make the music on Napper's Delight both now and timeless. And listen to how Dean quietly and slyly works Steely Dan into the lyrics of "Sally Ann". "Wheelin' and Dealin'", cowritten with NYC's Emily Curtis, would be a lo-fi electrotrance hit on any college radio station, and the Elizabeth Mitchell-sung "Grow Little Flower" would fit in just nicely on Neil Young's Harvest Moon.

Other highlights include the 5/4 - 3/4 verse/chorus of the Vince Guaraldi-influenced "Needs", the mournful trombones of the call-and-response antebellum-sounding waltz "Filly and Dilly", and the uniquely Dean Jones lyrics of "Hush Little Baby". Dig these tasty lines from "Hermit Crab": Minnows swim in minnow school / Stand askance of tidal pool / Swim on swishy beaucoup fishies / Pesky little Pisces settle down nicely". Cool.

What's going on here is more than pretty little folk songs: The album as a whole is all about observing, understanding, and caring for your world, including the people around you. It's not enough to live in it, you have to be a part of it.

This is music, man. If anyone in the universe wants to jump in and get their feet wet, well, c'mon. Everyone's invited, Dean Jones ain't keepin' nobody out.