There’s an art to making children’s music that is a little different than making any other genre, and with a delicate touch and melodic tendencies that could make anyone into a fan, The Roughhousers present a pair of singles in “Princess Mike” and “Azucar” that highlight how gifted players have to be to produce this style of music successfully. With superb chemistry that allows for them to play off of each other’s cues seamlessly, Grey DeLisle and Eddie Clendening develop easy-going harmonies and simple beats certain to magnetize and entertain those who give them a listen this spring.
DeLisle’s bewitching vocal is by far the most enticing element in the mix right off the bat, and through the casual pop backdrop she’s able to straddle in “Azucar” specifically, we get a complete feel for how much she can do with a seemingly simple melody. I’ve listened to some of her music outside of this collaboration with Clendening and have been very impressed with her command of lyrics, but this is an instance where her sly control of the beat is more of a spotlight-stealer. She’s confident here, and it’s showing through her delivery.
There’s a little more tonal depth to “Princess Mike” than there is “Azucar,” and I love the way its instrumentation wraps around us like a warm blanket in the middle of winter. Instead of pressing against the beat with a gentle melodicism, DeLisle can be a bit more forceful in this performance, which gives the string play a lot more luster than it would have had otherwise. It’s a very complete piece of music, and an obvious complement to the compositional wits we’re getting from its counterpart, together showcasing a versatility that I wish I heard more of in children’s music today.
The playfulness of the beat in “Princess Mike” is skewed with a vulnerability that is somewhat ironic when examining the big picture here, being that this resembles the nature of childhood itself. Innocence is never out of reach between these verses are their adjacent melodies, and it’s impressive that DeLisle and Clendening are able to maintain such a focused, mature demeanor even amidst the production of something that is familiarly childlike and simple. As noted at the head of this article, it takes special musicians to make this sort of genre sound compelling, and The Roughhousers are up to the task in these songs.
I’m very intrigued by what this act is putting together at the moment, and although there’s frequently a moderate limit to how children’s music can evolve, I hear a lot of potential in the source of “Azucar” and “Princess Mike” that I’m excited for these two players to explore. The Roughhousers aren’t quite as rough and tumble as their handle would initially suggest they are, but for all that they lack in aggressive moxie they’re making up for with a soothing melodicism that could bring them a lot of fans from ages one to one hundred this year.
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