Robot album review
“I’d recommend this for any parents who want to keep the kids happy, but want their own ears to be happy too, and simply cannot contemplate the 55th repeat of “Let it Go”. Do yourself (and your ears) a favour, and get some Al Start in your life!” - Laura Townshend, parent
As a mum of an almost-5 year old boy, we’d listened to a lot of kids music over the years. We initially turned to the classics - Disney (which undoubtedly offered great tunes, but unfortunately the same songs were repeat requested) and nursery rhymes (which got really old, really quickly)! So my husband and I started looking out for something different... Something we could ALL enjoy. This was a tall order, but a lucky Google search led us to Al Start!
We have been enjoying Al’s music for a couple of years now, and car journey is rarely complete without having listened to a few of her tracks. I particularly appreciate the lack of saccharine so often associated with kids music, which is evident in both the vocals, production and stories behind the songs. This is not traditional kids music, and I mean that in the best possible way, as it’s music that adults would actually choose to listen to. She’s not afraid to inject a bit of melancholy or more serious subject matters. All this said, the prospect of a new album was an exciting one.
“Robot” feels a bit more sophisticated in style compared to her previous Go Kid Music albums, and felt more focused on slightly older children and families as a whole. There were plenty of catchy tunes and soaring vocals, as we’d come to expect from Al, but the lyrics seemed less frivolous and more thoughtful, and spoke of life’s pleasures, such as going to the park (Higher and Higher) and dreaming of flying (Up, Up and Away), as well as life’s pains, commenting on environmental issues (Brand New Day) and the life of a servant (The Victorian Way).
As my child is still quite young, I could almost pick out the songs I thought he’d like by the titles alone. To an extent, I was right. Banana Milkshake was immediately the favourite, and we both found ourselves dancing along, and laughing at the lyrics. (I defy you not to sing along with the chorus, “Shake it, shake it, shake banana milkshake”!) My son also enjoyed Grandad’s Pants (largely because it was about pants), and he also asked to hear ‘the rainy song’ again (Jumbled Around). He tended to gravitate to the more amusing, upbeat songs (e.g. a faster tempo).
I particularly enjoyed Higher and Higher, with its catchy little chorus, and also Up, Up and Away, which had a chilled-out, dreamy quality. My favourite track though was Four Grey Cats. My boy liked this one too and we swayed along to this song together. It’s a folky summery track and it definitely falls into the realms of feeling like my music (rather than my kid’s), so as a parent, that’s a real win. It definitely beats having to listen to electronically altered voices singing “Dingle Dangle Scarecrow” by a country mile!
The title track, Robot, caused a bit of discussion because “didn’t they know you can’t grow up to be a robot because they’re made of metal”. You can’t really argue with that!
In summary, this is another great album from Al Start. For us, the only thing lacking were some more of the funny singalong songs that lend themselves well to accompanying actions (like Gorrid the Horrid, Cake, Creepy Castle), as they’re the ones that we most enjoy singing together. I suspect, for that reason, the little person will be wanting more than one helping of Banana Milkshake.
I’d recommend this for any parents who want to keep the kids happy, but want their own ears to be happy too, and simply cannot contemplate the 55th repeat of “Let it Go”. Do yourself (and your ears) a favour, and get some Al Start in your life!
By Laura Townshend, Parent 7/05/20
Robot Review, Zoe Jones, parent
Thank you so much for sending this new album for us to enjoy.... and enjoy it we did!
It’s definitely different from the other 3 albums we have. A much more mature sound. It’s the perfect album for lazy Saturday and Sunday mornings at home. It’s a mature enough sound that both adults and children are happy. Really chilled out until Banana Milkshake comes on then everyone goes bonkers!! It’s hands down our favourite track! It really appeals to my children who are 4 and 7. Even if they are in another room they dash in and dance to this track right to the end. The other tracks have sparked great conversations and I often find my children singing higher and higher to themselves.
We still love Gorrid the Horrid and all our other favourites but I think this album will grow with our family. It’s so lovely to have some music that we can put on and not worry about who is listening as it’s perfect for all ages.
Great job Al!! Thank you.
Very best wishes, Zoe
“This album isn’t just for children. It has become my favourite chill out album.” - Gemma Connington, parent & teacher
Robot album review, Gemma Connington, teacher & parent
This album isn’t just for children. It has become my favourite chill out album. Al’s smooth voice glides over the gentle grooves and instantly relaxes me. I find myself moving slowly in time to the music subconsciously and it’s hard not to not join in and sing along.
My children have had fun coming up with some interesting choreographies, especially in the song ‘banana milkshake’. This is our favourite of the album. It is well balanced and the backings are nicely varied throughout, creating a lovely album that isn’t a carbon copy all the way through. This is my 4th album from Al and everytime she hits the nail on the head. My boys and I love them all and we can’t wait to see what comes out next.
We really have loved this album... I wish you success for the launch and any future ventures. I look forward to seeing future releases.
Kind regards, Gemma
Robot Album review, ms K-H, teacher
‘I was so excited to get my hands on Al's new album having bought and loved her Excellent Songs for Children collection. Robot shows a change in tone in Al's music: you can still expected unbounded joy and toe tapping beats but you can add to that more in-depth explorations of complex ideas and emotions too.
For families that have grown up with Al, this is a perfect album for older children. As well as stand alone songs, there are plenty of tunes that link wonderfully to topics and current events for KS2 children.
As a teacher who sings the day away, it's such a delight to find kid's music with soul that you enjoy, let alone don't mind, hearing on repeat and repeat and repeat!
Robot will be added to firm favourites in every classroom and home, and rightly so.’
Live Music at Wowo - Parent Review
Just got back from a few days camping at WoWo. One of those trips that life is all about. We managed to get over to your session by 8pm. I’m so glad we did. Wilma my youngest was enthralled. Must stand up up can’t sit down excited. Cried when she thought she missed her opportunity to sing with you. And then you helped her through Katy Perry “Roar” and it was my turn to get a bit weepy. That’s a memory we won’t forget and a story we’ll always tell. The music was great but my favourite bit was your humanity and how kind and supportive with all of the kids and the songs they wanted to sing.
She went to bed straight after, very tired and very happy.
Thank you Al! We think you’re amazing.