Renee Stahl Dektor has some pretty awesome friends. When they drop by and open their mouths, you’d better sit back and listen. They’re totally apolitical and totally tuneful. Renee & Friends‘ new CD, Kindred, features Grammy winners Lisa Loeb and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo among the hoi polloi.
It’s the second release that started with 2016’s SIMPATICO, a similarly-themed collection of family-oriented soft pop songs with a modern spin. Kindred’s “Leaders Of The World” features a rap break that name-drops Peter Yarrow and Frida Kahlo by Skidoo. Renee also reunited Loeb and Lisa’s college roommate Elizabeth Mitchell to sing the classic “High Hopes.”
Jeremy Toback and Renee began recording children’s music more than a decade ago (as Renee & Jeremy). That collaboration morphed into “& Friends” as they brought in talented personnel to augment their song selection. These gentle, engaging ballads are seductively simple – the nostalgic duet (“Where Do The Children Play?”) by Renee and Ziggy Marley reinvents Cat Stevens’ original recording, which holds a secret message about society and freedom:
Will you make us laugh?
Will you make us cry?
Will you tell us when to live?
Will you tell us when to die?
I know we’ve come a long way.
We’re changing day to day.
But tell me, where do the children play?
Most of all, Kindred allows Renee to sing praises about her children (daughters Amelia and Isadora make their debuts on the CD). “Nothing And No One” affirms “everything is how it’s supposed to be” for her family, while closer “How Did You Get So?” wistfully describes every parents’ lament about the fleeting nature of childhood. Whether you’re a parent, a future parent, or a parent adjacent, KINDRED should strike a genuine chord of recognition for its emphatic declaration of kindie-dependence.
Here is the video for Renee & Friends’ song, “You Were Meant to Be,” featuring Glenn Phillips (from Toad the Wet Sprocket):