Album Review: Caspar Babypants, “Hot Dog!”

He’s one of our family’s favorite musicians — and the current champion of my four-year-old son’s CD player, where he recently dethroned Dean Jones as the nighttime artist of choice — but I’ve reached the point where I approach every new Caspar Babypants album with a near-equal mix of anticipation and dread. Anticipation because I know I’m going to love whatever Caspar comes up with, but dread because I also know I’m going to have to write about it — and after three superlative-laden posts about the Babypants oeuvre, I’m rapidly reaching the point where I’m running out of fresh compliments to bestow.

Well. Here’s what I can tell you about the latest Caspar Babypants collection, Hot Dog! — if you hadn’t already guessed, everyone in my family loves it, especially my son, who’s particularly partial to the track “Stompy the Bear”:

Stompy’s great, but I think my favorite of the new album’s 19(!) tracks is probably the beautiful “All That I Have Got,” which blends the signature Babypants whimsy with a lovely, lilting melody and lyrics bearing a deceptively powerful message about where we find our happiness:

For my daughter, the album highlight is “A Thousand Tiny Donuts,” which sent her into peals of hysterical giggles before she’d even heard the song. Fortunately, the song didn’t disappoint — it’s darn catchy:

These are just a few of the many highlights from the album, which finds Caspar (a.k.a. Chris Ballew) adding a few new colors to his sonic palette while hewing close to everything that’s made his previous kindie forays so wonderful. These are sweet, bite-sized songs, silly but not gratuitously so, with solidly crafted melodies that will burrow their way straight into the happy part of your brain. They glow with joy and kindness.

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Who else would sing about feeling bad for a glove lying alone in the street?

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Only an artist finely attuned into the best parts of the childlike spirit.

There are a lot of artists making kids’ music right now, and many of them — like Chris/Caspar — made their way to the genre after building a career recording the grown-up stuff. A number of these folks are really quite good, but if I had to pick just one artist that I think has really found his calling in kindie, I’d pick Caspar Babypants. These really sound like the songs he was born to play, and I’d recommend them to any family without reservation.

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I can’t wait to hear what’s next. Sort of.