The Laurie Berkner Band

Two Tomatoes Records, 2016

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


On their first album or all new tunes since 2008, The Laurie Berkner Band dug deep into their bag of kid-friendly tunes. Consisting of 20+ songs and with specials guests Ziggy Marley, Kira Willey, and Brady Rymer, Berkner and her bandmates Susie Lampert (keyboards, vocals), and Bobby Golden (drums, animal sounds) hit a career high here with the appropriately titled Superhero.

Berkner reportedly conceptualized Superhero around activities she enjoyed as a kid, and if the amount of fun in these songs is any indication, Berkner's childhood must have been a blast. Much like all her work, sing-a-longs, animal impressions, and subjects that kids deal with each day (e.g. putting on pajamas) are part of the listen, though the underlying theme here is self-empowerment. Berkner strives to help us all recognize the superhero within all of us through her timeless song craft,

Lead off track “Superhero” starts the party with soft horns and a bouncy sing-a-long that could be the theme song to a quirky '80s sitcom. “Bicycle” replaces the horn with pianos, as Berkner does some impressive speed singing, while talking about, what else, riding a bicycle. While the instrumentation on the album is ever changing and nearly flawless, occasionally Berkner’ssongs feature her vocals primarily, such as the first half of “I've Got So Much To Give” and the lullaby-esque “Face To Face.”

There are some impressive cameos here, most notably “My My Marisol” with Ziggy Marley, which branches Berkner's kindie-rock into a reggae influenced zone. Elsewhere, Brady Rymer adds vocals on “Opelika Alabama,” where saxophone solos add greatly to the festivities, and Kira Willey's soft vocals and violin work infuse an orchestral feel into the more folk-based “Swing Me.”

At 23 tracks and just under an hour, there's something for everyone here, regardless of age. Surprisingly, Berkner even brings banjo acrobatics on “1-2 Hands” and, believe it or not, an EDM remix near the end. While the subject matter and call and response is often directed at the young ears, others tunes, like “Umbrella,” aren't far off from today's glamorous pop music.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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