Every kid loves Shel Silverstein, and for a very good reason; He speaks to them on their level and does so with comedy and energy to spare. Dark and somewhat taboo subjects are addressed with lighthearted and easy humor and the mundane is anything but when Uncle Shel’s narrating for you.
Before his death in 1999, Shel was working on his final children’s recording, a collection of music called Underwater Land that takes listeners on an undersea adventure. Or, rather, takes you on 17 separate adventures in its 17 underwater themed tracks. Any fan of “Where the Sidewalk Ends” or “A Light in the Attic” will appreciate his trademark humorous wordplay and the absurdity that only a child, or a child at heart, could appreciate.
Underwater Land is written, produced and illustrated by Shel Silverstein and comes complete with a beautiful 32-page book of Silverstein illustrations as well as lyrics. The CD is truly a treasure for the Shel Silverstein fan, and complements his other children’s pieces beautifully. The music and vocals are performed by singer-guitarist Pat Dailey with appearances by Shel Silverstein himself on many of the tracks. The two create an enthusiastic and lively mix of melodies that had the whole family grooving for the full length of the album.
The music is bluesy and playful throughout with fun and easy to follow rhythms that will keep kids and adults singing along to the final track. Encouraging us to play with our words and enjoy music, the Underwater Land lyrics are full of clever puns and silly stories that are sure to have your little ones giggling. Sure, some of the lyrics might be predictable to proficient rhymers, but I think it only adds to the singable nature of the album, and something the kids are sure to love.
Some of our favorite tracks include “Speedy the Snail”, a tune about a snail who lived at lightning speed, and “Captain Octopus”, which looks at both the positives and negatives of having an eight-legged octopus as a shipmate. Ironically, these are two of the darker tunes on the album, but both tracks remain clever and entertaining, even after a few listens apiece.
If I hadn’t been a Shel Silverstein fan from a very young age, I certainly would be after Underwater Land. Witty and whimsical lyrics combined with highly listenable vocals and melodies make this a true stand-out family album. No Silverstein collection is truly complete without it; Underwater Land should be part of every family’s playlist.
Take a listen to a sampling of tracks from Underwater Land by visiting the website. Warning, music play automatically, so no surfing at work.
A big thank you to The Underwater Land Project for introducing our family to the music and poetry of Shel Silverstein. No type of monetary compensation was received in exchange for this Rave Review.