The Okee Dokee Brothers - Winterland
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Winterland (Okee Dokee Music, 2018)

The Okee Dokee Brothers

Reviewed by Greg Yost

Brothers by band name only, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing, the artists behind The Okee Dokee Brothers, took home the prize in the Best Children's Album category at the 55th Grammy Awards in 2013 thanks to their ability to combine memorable melodies with engaging lyrics and wrap them up in acoustic folk/roots arrangements. The duo flashes those same skills again on "Winterland," and the results are equally impressive.

This 16-song set, comprised of all original secular compositions, is thematically focused on the coldest time of the year and touches upon various aspects of the season.

One major recurring theme throughout is the way the weather brings people together, for both comfort and warmth. On "Blankets Of Snow," the guys sing about starting up the fireplace, making some hot chocolate and wrapping up in a comforter to stay warm on a winter day. Similarly, the infectious little ditty "You You You" paints a tableau of family togetherness on a chilly day.

The third song focused on this motif is also one of the most memorable. "Keep Me Warm," with its accordion-driven and dance-inducing zydeco arrangement, contains this simple, but catchy chorus, "Keep me warm, keep me cozy/My nose is red and my cheeks are rosy/Wrap me up and give me a hug/Keep me snug as a bug in a rug."

Folk fans will find much to enjoy on the tracks inspired by traditional songs and styles. "Welcome Home" borrows its melody from the traditional Irish folk song "Whiskey In The Jar" and has the feel of a traditional sea shanty with a more modern roots arrangement. "Slumberjack," with its powerful group vocals, also has the feel of a traditional shanty or labor song.

You may expect a few silly songs from a family music collection and the whimsical "Ukulele In A Snowstorm" and the banjo sing-along "The Abominable Yeti" check that box. But what you may not expect is "Great Grandmother Tree," a thoughtful tale about the life cycle. Mailander and Lansing broach the subject by singing about the new life that thrives under the remains of a recently-fallen tree.

CDs by The Okee Dokee Brothers

Winterland, 2018 Through the Woods, 2014 Can You Canoe? A Mississippi River Adventure Album, 2012

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