Try to imagine if Donovan (yes old school folk Donovan) decided to write music for Saturday morning kids’ shows similar to Barney. It might be simplest way I can describe the music on the recent release from Grandpa Egg called Praying Mantis. Let’s also get this out of the way; this album is pretty dang awesome. There’s not really much it can be compared to directly but it feels founded in old English folk as well as traditional tune at times
Singer/songwriter Jeb Morris and his brother, multi-instrumentalist and producer Bart Morris, make up Grandpa Egg. It’s obvious from the songs that they have a good sense of humor but also are storytellers. I’m not going to go into great detail but this is indeed a concept record about a praying mantis called Pellapetisimo and a loose collection of other insects, plants, animals and humans.
One of the most appealing aspects of this album is that there is a rich variety of sounds that might remind you of your childhood. They implement bells, xylophone, organs and more into a warm canvas of sound that sounds whimsical and playful. I don’t think Jeb Morris was born in England (his bio says they formed in Pittsburgh) but he sure does sound English at points. There is definitely a similarity between him and Donavan. Sure, a lot of people sound like or try to sound like Dylan but Donovan...that’s kind of cool.
This is a record that I highly advise listening to from start to end. It doesn't make much sense to skip around, as there is a loose narrative. That being said, there are plenty of songs you can enjoy without have to indulge in the whole thing.
One of the highlights was “Every Alcove.” I don’t know how someone could not enjoy this track. It’s warm, implements instrumentation you don’t hear everyday, is delightfully catchy and just kind of gives a fuzzy, happy feeling whether you want it or not. Another nugget of goodness is “Sally's House.” It’s a super catchy tune and has no mention of a praying mantis.
This album grew on me the more I listened. At first I felt somewhat indifferent but after a little while it started seeping into my brain in a very good way. Beyond the somewhat silly topic are well-written songs that a five-year-old or a forty-five-year old will enjoy. I salute the Morris Brothers for making such an original album.
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