Check It Out: Renee & Jeremy – It’s A Big World

Sometimes we need a hug, no matter how big or small we are, we just need the warmth of something to surround us and let us know that everything will be ok.

Over the weekend, my 3yr old was overtired and simply tapped out. We are going through the lovely transitionary period where the nap is no longer an option but either is staying up all day. So, last Saturday evening when my daughter couldn’t quite hold it together, she just stood in front of me with tears streaming down her face. She was defeated. So, as we sat on the floor and I held her in my arms, I turned on “It’s A Big World” and for the next 15 minutes we were enveloped in the calming embrace that is Renee & Jeremy.

Renee & Jeremy is made up of two wonderful L.A. based artists who, aside from this effort, are parents and solo artists in their own right. One half of the duo is Renee Stahl, who has released solo albums for film, TV and advertising. The other half, Jeremy Toback, current member of Chop Love Carry Fire, released a couple of solo albums in the late 90’s, and formed the band Brad with Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam. As a whole, these two produce soothing sounds that pull you in and sweep you up into an aura of love.

Renee & Jeremy’s debut, “It’s A Big World,” was released in 2007. The first 2 songs written (“Welcome To This World” and “Falling Star Lullaby”) were inspired by Jeremy’s youngest son. What’s even sweeter is that the album was recorded while Renee was pregnant with her first child (they actually recorded the album in the baby’s nursery). Knowing this further increases the depth and sincerity in the sound and spirit of this album. It’s totally authentic and filled with so much love.

While “It’s A Big World” was intended to be a lullaby album, there are a few upbeat songs. One in which I absolutely love and how I came to know Renee & Jeremy is “Night Mantra.” The song’s lyrics are “I will be your home/I will be your guide/I will be your friend/always on your side/sleep now in your room/quiet of the night/surrounded by the moon til you see the light.”

Other great songs include “It’s A Big World”, “Free”, “Powder Blue Solo”, “Sleep My Love” and “Shoorahlaywho.”

“It’s A Big World” should definitely be listened to in it’s entirety and on repeat. It is suitable for the 0-5 crowd but can also be heavily consumed by grown-ups whether you are a parent or not. We enjoy it during quiet time and really anytime the environment is calling for a more chilled out vibe, as was the case last Saturday when my daughter was having a rough time.

Please check them out and perhaps purchase a copy for yourself and a friend.

You can listen to four tracks from this album at the duo’s website. They also have an extra track on their MySpace page. You can get a free download, as well as, purchase digital copies of their album from their website. Non-digital copies of their albums are also available at other regular outlets, i.e. CDBaby and Amazon.

Below are some additional videos for your viewing pleasure:

Check It Out: Elizabeth Mitchell – You Are My Sunshine

“So glad I’m Here Every Day” is how this album first opens up and, frankly, that is really how I feel when I listen to this album. And really anything that Elizabeth Mitchell produces. She has such a sweet way of luring me and my daughter into every word she sings. It’s beautiful music.

Although this is her second release, and she has done several releases and projects since then, I decided to review this album first since I am new at reviewing and it was my very first love, er listen, to Elizabeth Mitchell.  Plus, we have been listening to it a lot lately.

This album is wonderful in so many ways. First off, it covers various styles of music and is diverse enough that parents may just find themselves listening to and/or singing songs from this album when the kids are not around. And not just because those darn kids songs don’t leave our heads, but because they are cool enough to be a part of the grown-up community.  The tempo of the album starts off upbeat and slowly winds down with some great folk numbers.

Let’s start with the alphabet song. Yes, you’ve heard and sung this a million times, but when it’s put into a hip, dub-reggae composition such as Mitchell has done here it works, and works really well.  Then there is the fun Bo Diddley which is set to the tune of Bow Wow’s “I Want Candy.”  Brings back such memories for me.  I still remember my Dad coming home with their LP.

The album contains a number of covers the likes of which include Ladybug Picnic, featured on Sesame Street and 3 is the Magic Number from The Magic School Bus. There are also other covers like Goin’ Down The Road Feelin’ Bad which was sung by likes of Woody Guthrie and even the Grateful Dead.

I have several favorites on this album but instead of listing them here, I would just urge you to visit her site, listen to her album and get into the groove.

You can get to know Elizabeth Mitchell at her site You Are My Flower and even listen to the album (and others) here.

This album probably works best for kids under 6.  It’s been a toddler favorite in our household since E was a teeny little monster at 1.5 yrs old.  Enjoy!

Check It Out: Mr. Ray – The Classroom Collection – Best Of…

This morning was another gloomy one  with nothing but clouds and promise of rain.  Yuck.  I hate those mornings.  I like a bit of sunshine with my coffee and busy toddler.  As usual, we went to turn on music and I was instantly racking my brains for some good music that we haven’t listened to a million times over.  I decided to browse around for some new music and came across Mr. Ray’s Best Of….The Classroom Collection.  Presto!  It was just the right amount of happy that we needed to get the morning started.  Mr. Ray has a very catchy way of hooking you into bobbing up down and snapping.  His songs are more than catchy and speak to important themes such as sharing, waiting your turn, cleaning up and using your manners (which is a dub inspired tune reminding our children to say ‘please’).  And, for those passionate about acronyms (I will never forget the Every Good Boy Does Fine acronym from my piano lesson days) there is a tune about a boy named Roy G Biv whose name stands for the colors of the rainbow of course.  And who doesn’t love learning about a rainbow.  You and your child will love bopping up and down and maybe even skipping to Mr. Ray’s infectious kindie (that’s Indie + Kids) grooves.

Bio: A jersey rocker turned kindie rocker when he was invited to perform for kids at his wife’s preschool.  After performing a couple of songs for the kids, he instantly became Mr. Ray.  Mr. Ray has an extensive rock bio including playing and touring with Meatloaf, playing with Springsteen and Bon Jovi, and even getting to play for the United Nations in NYC.  His passion for the last several years has been playing for kids under the age of 8 and has been loving it.

This just might be a case where I end up stealing from my daughter’s music chest.

You can find Mr. Ray here
You can listen to clips here