Honored with FIVE national awards and adored by a legion of families in the greater Boston area, Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys are poised to firmly plant themselves on the national scene with the October 2 release of Vanessa’s third studio CD, Bubble Ride (VeeTree Records, $14.98, run time 47 minutes, for ages 1 – 8).
With heartwarming effervescence, Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys – Dave Jamrog, Adam Rothberg, Julie Rama Winslow and Paul Kochanski – have captured the vibrant energy of the band’s tremendously popular live concerts to showcase a sound honed and refined over the course of the past two years, a sound notable for its energized spontaneity, rich harmonies, and primarily acoustic instrumentation. The result: a distinctive album, which defines a polished, mindful approach to music for children and families.
The Jumping Monkeys’ drummer, Dave Jamrog, recorded and mixed Bubble Ride in his Snappytracks Studio in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts in conjunction with contributions from band member Adam Rothberg at his Pepperland Studio in Cambridge. Together, they’ve crafted a recorded sound that is truly beautiful and pure. The rich tones of the (mostly) acoustical instruments, the superlative vocal lines, and crystal clear diction are captured with a vibrancy that could only be rivaled by inviting Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys right into your living room.
Bubble Ride kicks off with “Moomooheehawbaabaaneigh,” a sort of barnyard onomatopoetic Afrobeat song that takes a break in the middle to feature Adam Rothberg in a hilarious rap about animal conversations. A delightful feature of many of the songs on Bubble Ride is the way they “open up” to create the image of a richly textured, large vocal ensemble. Listening to these singers harmonize makes it clear that they love what they’re doing! This is especially apparent when Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys revisit an iconic anthem of the early ‘70s, “Free to Be You and Me.” The round, deep tones of Paul Kochanski’s bass provide a living foundation for the band throughout the CD, while Adam Rothberg’s mandolin playing provides an easygoing Nashville sound to “Spinning Around.” “Tickle Monster” alternates a droll, klezmer-like slow verse with a fast and silly chorus guaranteed to tickle all listeners of all ages. With “Yo-Yo Song” the ensemble again demonstrates its strength as a harmony group, with much credit going to the sensitive way that Julie Rama Winslow supports Vanessa Trien’s lead.
Throughout Bubble Ride, Vanessa Trien displays a wide range of expression and a command of a multitude of vocal styles that emphasize the humor of songs like “Peacock Walk,” the rockabilly energy of “One Fine Day,” the husky blues sound of Julie Rama Winslow’s composition “Train Dance,” or the relaxed poise of the title song, “Bubble Ride.” As a songwriter, Vanessa Trien has created lyrics and melodies that speak to children in a language that’s filled with fun and scrupulously avoids any condescending tones. Following Vanessa’s lead, the Jumping Monkeys turn each track of Bubble Ride into an elegant musical statement with all of the power and energy of a megawatt electrical ensemble.