The pandemic has brought Renee & Jeremy full circle. It all began in 2006, when Renee (who was pregnant at the time), asked Jeremy if he wanted to contribute a song to a lullaby record she was planning to make. Jeremy played “Welcome To This World” for Renee and her husband, Paul. He had written the tune for the birth of his son, Miles. Subsequently, Renee & Jeremy took their favorites and slimmed them into sparse, kid-friendly arrangements that can be enjoyed by the whole family. The full thunderous Guns ‘N Roses “Sweet Child O’Mine” isn’t exactly age-appropriate for the under-three diaper set. With the steady hand of longtime producer Rich Jacques, Renee & Jeremy turn the anthem into a dreamy, hummable lullaby. Fancy that, Slash.
During the song selection process, Jeremy was intrigued when Renee and producer Rich suggested “Whole Lotta Love.” “The Zeppelin version is so blatantly sexual,” he recalled. “I really doubted that it was possible to transform and make it into a sweet family-friendly love song… Now it’s one of my absolute favorite things we’ve ever done.” Rich brought INXS’s “Don’t Change” into the mix during pre-production discussions. “I always loved the INXS original growing up, but just wasn’t sure if we could make it meaningful, R&J style,” Jeremy explained. But once the duo played it, they transformed a romantic anthem into a quiet, moving call for kids of all ages to simply be themselves. “Rich came up with that Leonard Cohen-esque arpeggio part while we were recording and it became a template for the rest of the record, in terms of emotional tone and textural spareness,” he added.
“Sweet Child O’ Mine” was the result of fan suggestions through Instagram. “I’m still a little amazed by how heartbreakingly touching it turned out,” Jeremy said. “Renee really touched on something deep with her vocal.” The rendition evocatively sums up who Renee & Jeremy are and what they want to do. “Our goal is not only to give comfort to actual children, but to the children inside all of us, who still need that nurturing and support,” he affirmed.
Considering Jeremy’s grunge rock origins (as bassist for the band Brad which featured Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard), the soft-rock, melodic recordings of Renee & Jeremy feel like an acoustic “time-out” for the West Coast-based duo. But maybe not. What’s more welcoming to young audiences, loud, ominous yowling or gentle, inviting easy-to-remember, call-and-response songs? The B-52s wrote “Roam” to make people dance. This duo revisited “Roam” as a gateway to music as a voyage towards respect and mindfulness. Renee & Jeremy put a whole lotta love into Whole Lotta Love.
Here is the world premiere video for the song “Here and Now”: