In the tradition of Schoolhouse Rock and Harry Nilsson's The Point!, Justin Roberts has joined a very short list of modern songwriters whose children's music crosses most every generational boundary. His new record, Great Big Sun is full of songs that are by turn humorous, educational, and poignant yet never lose the wide-eyed naivete of childhood.
Influenced by James Taylor, Bob Dorough (Schoolhouse Rock), and Randy Newman, Great Big Sun avoids synthesizers and drum machines in favor of live acoustic arrangements that include tuba, violin, and knee-slap percussion framing Justin's acoustic guitar.
Loosely based around a day in the life of child, the record begins with the arrival of the "Great Big Sun" then goes to school to learn the ABCs and 123s. Along the way, we're treated to Justin's retelling of the "3 Lil Pigs", a wonderful ska-inflected alphabet song, and passel of beautiful songs of kiddy empowerment before ending with a bedtime story ("kitty kat, kitty kat") and a "goodnight". Justin is joined by former Pimentos for Gus violinist, Tracy Spuehler, and Liam Davis and Ross Bergseth from Chicago's power pop quarter, The Moviegoers.
Justin Roberts lives in Chicago and is a former member/founder of Minneapolis modern-folk legends, Pimentos for Gus. His stint as a preschool music teacher inspired much of Great Big Sun. Justin fully acknowledges that the record is not in the modern vein of multicultural/save-the-rainforest children's music. Instead, he sought to evoke fond memories of his Midwestern childhood and, in doing so, has created a much more resonant work.