By Tonya Clanton
Renee & Friends’ new album, “Kindred is Just Beautiful,” is a melodic and easygoing collaboration with several other artists, including Ziggy Marley, Lisa Loeb, and Asheville’s own Agent 23 Skidoo, and also includes the voices of her daughters on a few songs. Renee Stahl, the lead singer, recently called into Asheville FM’s Radioactive Kids show, hosted by Sagan, to talk about the album.
When asked how she pulls together such great material with other artists, and what message she is looking to get across with the new album, she said, “Life is so much better with friends…I wanted to do more songs to include more people…it’s almost like a tree—we all help each other and it just kind of branches out to other places.”
Renee’s music is unlike traditional kids music, which can be relentlessly upbeat and usually is only appreciated by the very young. Her soft, accessible vocals and clean instrumentation create a mellow soundtrack perfect for a road trip. She compares her sound to that of Elizabeth Mitchell, a folksy American singer-songwriter who creates slightly more mature kids songs (such as “Little Bird”) that have a calming effect. The songs also contain messages that are universally empowering, such as, “We are the voices that are strong and true.”
Renee said her music is “filling a void in the music industry,” in that it can be enjoyed “even [by] people who don’t have kids.” She calls her genre “people music.” This all-ages appeal is evident in the song “Rely,” sung by her daughters Amelia and Isadora. Timeless themes of trust and friendship are complemented with imagery of sunsets and flowers, as well as lyrics such as “like a melody silently calling.” The sweet and clear vocals, backed by strings, have a simple honesty and preciousness.
During the show, Sagan played several songs from the new album, including two covers: “Where Do the Children Play?” with Ziggy Marley, and “High Hopes,” which is dedicated to her father. In “Leaders of the World,” Renee collaborates with Agent 23 Skidoo to present an “old-school rap style” song with lyrics that are a “realistic but positive look at the future.” She explained the message of the song: “This is what’s happening. It’s real. You can do it.”
Listen to the interview here: