“There were a bunch of years there where I kind of lived in tents and people’s closets.”

If you’ve been a hardcore Popdose reader for any length of time (and I love you if you are), you’re probably aware that for a few years, I also ran Dadnabbit, our sibling site with a focus on kids’ culture and family entertainment. The mighty Dan Walsh has the keys to Dadnabbit now, but I still remain an unabashed fan of a number of kindie artists — including Dean Jones, who’s sort of the Joe Henry of the genre, balancing a bustling career as an in-demand (and Grammy-winning!) producer against his own artistic pursuits as a solo artist and member of Dog on Fleas.

I’m always happy to hear about new music from Dean, whose solo output includes my favorite naptime record (Napper’s Delight) and my favorite kindie record (Rock Paper Scissors, recorded with the Felice Brothers), and whose work with Dog on Fleas can make a parent laugh, dance, or tear up with equal aplomb. His latest release, a solo recording entitled When the World Was New, has everything fans have come to expect: Humor, intelligence, and tenderness, all wrapped up in warm, witty musical arrangements.

Humble to a fault, Dean’s reluctant to offer his career as any kind of model, but I think we still managed to touch on some interesting, instructive stuff in this episode of A Fine Mess — how he went from a college kid with no particular plan to the owner of one of upstate New York’s premier independent studios, his approach to using the studio as an instrument without allowing it to sap his recordings of their energy, and what inspires him as a songwriter. Join us, won’t you?

A Fine Mess, Episode 5: Dean Jones (download)