Philspicks (2021)

Jenn Cleary’s Debut Family Album Is A Positive First Family Outing

Singer/songwriter/activist Jenn Cleary has spent the better part of her adult life making music and working to improve life for families in places around the world.  Now this year, she is bringing those two sides of her career together with her debut family music album, All Together Now.  Scheduled for release Friday, the self-released record blends Cleary’s socially conscious leanings with a diverse range of musical arrangements to make the general presentation appealing for her target audiences.  The sequencing of the noted content brings everything together and completes the record’s presentation.  All three noted items are important in their own way to the whole of this presentation to make the album a presentation that holds its own against the many other family music albums that have been released so far this year.

Jenn Cleary’s debut family music album (and fourth overall album) is a presentation that holds its own against this year’s current field of new family music albums.  That is proven in part through its featured lyrical themes.  From start to end, the 31-minute record’s themes range from the silly to the serious.  The more serious themes come early on in the record’s first four songs.  From understanding and appreciating the role of bees to the environment, to keeping the world’s waterways clean, to simply understanding and appreciating the diversity in the world’s ecosystems, and the need to protect them, Cleary makes the messages clear in these songs.  She also closes the album with a more serious topic in the matter of the non-nuclear family in ‘Families of All Kinds.’  This song continues the normalization of the reality that families are not just two parents and a certain number of children.  Considering that there are still those in the 21st century who stick to that stereotype, a song such as this is just as relevant and welcome as ever.  In-between all of that, Cleary inserts the more silly works, one of which is a simple work that celebrates the joy of something as simple as blowing bubbles.  There is also a celebration of using one’s imagination in ‘Dinosaur Friend.’  Between this topic, the others noted here, and those featured in the rest of the album’s works, the whole paints Cleary’s new album as an interesting lyrically diverse presentation.  That diversity in itself will help the album connect with a wide range of audiences.  It is just one of the aspects that will connect with audiences.  The album’s musical content is just as diverse as its lyrical content.

All Together Now opens with a semi-country style work in ‘Our Wild Family.’  The combination of the piano, harmonica, vocals, and drums works well to present that subtle sound and approach.  Cleary moves in a more bluesy direction in ‘Scar’s the Word For That,’ showing that diversity a little more.  ‘Clean Water’ changes things up again, taking the record is amore pop direction.  On an even more interesting note, Cleary offers up some zydeco in ‘Backyard Farm.’  ‘Dinosaur Friend’ keeps the musical diversity moving by using a bit of a folk/country hybrid approach in its musical arrangement.  ‘Less Gravity’ keeps the changes coming, this time taking listeners back to the 1960s in its danceable arrangement. Looking through all of this and the musical arrangements in the album’s other songs, the diversity in the record’s musical content becomes clearer.  Hearing that diversity will lead to full appreciation for that aspect of the album, too.

While the general content featured throughout this record does plenty to keep listeners engaged and entertained, they are only a portion of what makes the record interesting for audiences.  The sequencing of said content brings everything together and completes the album’s presentation.  A close listen to the record reveals a very deliberate approach to the sequencing.  For the most part, the sequencing keeps the album’s energy at a relatively stable mid-tempo rate.  However, there is a clear break point in the record in ‘Love Right Now.’  This song features a distinctly subdued sound and approach that is completely unlike the album’s other arrangements.  It serves as a good way for Cleary to keep listeners engaged.  From there, the record returns to its noted, more up-tempo feel that makes up the record’s first half.    In the process, the sequencing ensures the lyrical themes and musical styles and sounds change just enough to keep things interesting.  Keeping this in mind, no doubt is left as to the importance of the album’s sequencing.  When it is considered along with the album’s musical and lyrical content, the whole makes this album a successful first family outing for Cleary.

Jenn Cleary’s debut family album, All Together Now is a positive offering from the singer/songwriter/activist.  That is proven in part through the album’s musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question are somewhat diverse, offering audiences a touch of country, folk, and even some pop.  The lyrical content that accompanies the album’s musical content adds its own touch to the presentation.  That is because it is also diverse.  There are environmentally aware messages alongside messages making clear, the importance of family and familial love.  There are also lighter messages that push the importance of having simple fun.  The record’s sequencing ensures that musical and lyrical diversity is itself kept diverse throughout the album.  It changes up all of that content throughout while also keeping the album’s energy stable throughout.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album, clearly.  All things considered, they make All Together Now a positive first family outing for Cleary.