Most kids music fans know the name Renee Stahl. The L.A.-based musician is the “Renee” in the duo Renee and Jeremy, which released three full-length albums in the past decade, along with one holiday EP.
Stahl’s new album, Simpatico (www.reneeandfriends.com), is her first solo project, but she is far from alone on it. Jeremy Toback (the “Jeremy” in Renee and Jeremy) duets on a tune, and Lisa Loeb, Casper Babypants (Chris Ballew from the band The Presidents of the United States of America), Men At Work’s Colin Hay and Glen Phillips from Toad The Wet Sprocket also appear on the album. It’s no wonder that Stahl bills the CD as “Renee & Friends.”
Those friends extend beyond the music community. Actress Maya Rudolph joins Stahl on a delightful cover of Prince’s “Starfish and Coffee,” while her childhood pal Molly Shannon reunites with Stahl on “Happiness,” a song they sang in a youth theater production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Stahl says she’s thrilled that all of these performers were able to collaborate with her. “Actually, we made a list of friends that we knew and thought would be fun to work with,” she says. “Fortunately, everyone was on board!” Her duet with Shannon was the only song she had planned on in advance. “The rest,” she admits, “we just went in blind with the concept of making songs for kids of all ages, songs that had an innocence and purity to them. The process was really enjoyable, to let each individual artist lead and watch for the spark that showed up in the room.”
Shannon says she had fun recording “Happiness,” though she confessed that, “the whole thing just really choked me up – working with Renee and the song, and thinking about my kids and then also thinking about when Renee and I were little girls.”
That spark resulted in a wonderfully joyful album filled with charming music that will appeal to children and adults. Gently enchanting tracks such as “You Were Meant To Be,” “Wherever You Go” and “Gather Round” hold universal themes of friendship, love and emotional support that everyone can relate to. Stahl says she wants to make music that inspires and makes you “feel good, feel moved in some way.” With Simpatico, she achieves a rousing success.
Watch “Gather Round” by Renee & Friends (featuring Lisa Loeb)