"Homey and nostalgic, that's how one might describe Kevin Renick's newest album Under The Wishing Tree...There’s an air of serenity that surrounds the entire album. Every track fills you with tranquility, solace, or lightheartedness—a laidback and serene sound. It’s one of those albums you throw in on a Sunday morning while enjoying a nice, calming moment and a cup of coffee."
“I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your song at the end of Up in the Air. As a filmmaker, I usually stay through the credits if I know somebody who worked on the film. In this case I didn't, so I was on my way out of the theatre when your song came on. It stopped me in my tracks. Needless to say I didn't mind making my friends wait in the hall for the few minutes it took to enjoy your song.”
Film director Alex Houston
"Your story is so rich on so many levels, and offers hope to all artists working hard to be recognized."
Jeff Maxwell, KFWB 980, Los Angeles
"Having written a song called, quite cannily, 'Up in the Air' before he even knew about the movie, Renick seemed to psychically tune into the zeitgeist that made it possible for such a film to thrive in the first place...Renick imbued the track with a sincere blue collar humbleness.”
Jordan Oakes, St. Louis Magazine
"Jason Reitman's gently funny drama had a soundtrack chock full of delights, from Crosby, Stills & Nash to (a not-so-young) Young MC. But the record’s highlight was possibly the most life-affirming story of the year. Out of work and down on his luck, Missouri musician Kevin Renick discovered that the lo-fi song he’d written chimed almost perfectly with the themes of Reitman’s film, right down to the title. So he did what anyone in his shoes would have done: he tracked him down, pressed a demo into his hand and the rest, as they say, is history."
Empire Magazine (UK), "Best of 2010" Wrap-up
"The soundtrack is apt and lovely, specifically the title song 'Up in the Air' by Kevin Renick. When he was sacked, Kevin penned the song and by chance met Reitman, handed him a cassette tape and shared with him the story behind the song, and Reitman and his diligence converted the tape and used it on the soundtrack to the film. This act sums up this film perfectly.”
Amy V. Gathercole, Britfilms.tv
"I've had the soundtrack for a while and I can't stop listening. It closes with the title tune, written by Kevin Renick, a St. Louis songwriter and regular-joe job-loss victim who gave his demo to director Jason Reitman. It's pretty, but brutal."
Sean Daly, St. Petersburg Times
"Much of the soundtrack is sweet, gentle and, in the case of the title cut by Kevin Renick—a singer/songwriter who was laid off from his job, just like so many characters in the film, and submitted the song to Reitman unsolicited—quite moving.”
AMG Music Guide
“If you stay through the end credits of UP IN THE AIR, you’ll hear a song by Kevin Renick, an independent musician based in St. Louis, MO. Renick sent the song to Reitman, which he'd written a year before the film was announced (coincidentally, the song and film share the same name). The song’s inclusion is a fitting coda to a film about the connections between strangers in an overcrowded world fraught with alienation.”
Matt Fagerholm, filmmonthly.com
"Renick's melodies slither into your ears and induce a melancholy madness. You want to guffaw and weep and skip all at once."
Film director Wolfgang Lehmkuhl
Kevin Renick’s fifth album Clear the Way transcends the limitations we place on our typical understanding of an “album”. What Renick has created here feels most comparable to a conceptual show performed by Sufjan Stevens, or a classic album by the Moody Blues or Pink Floyd. Like many of the greatest achievements of the tragically bygone era of “album-oriented rock”, Renick’s soundscape offers a journey that he invites listeners to join him on, whether they follow his literal path or create something of their own. At its honest and vulnerable core, Clear the Way is the most intimate of personal statements expressed on the most epic scale.
The twelve-minute “Prologue: The #5 Dream Train Arrives at the Station LATE, and Damaged” deserves to go down among music aficionados as one of the great opening statements for a concept album. Renick confidently lets the listener know what sort of experience he’s creating, and hopefully his audience will open themselves up to the journey of the record. This nicely sets the stage for the ultimate effect of Clear the Way. To its upmost credit, this album truly feels like Renick dropped acid, put on headphones, closed his eyes, went on an ego-shattering journey through his subconscious and past traumas, and then wanted to communicate through seventy-eight minutes of music what he experienced.
“Promise Man”, the first song proper on the album, reassures that the ensuing journey will also include some luscious harmonies and a beat that you can dance to. It’s to the betterment of Clear the Way that Renick is willing to wear both his past work and his influences on his sleeve. The “Prologue” reinterprets Renick’s best-known composition, the title track from the Up In the Air soundtrack. Contrastingly, the vibe of the guitar solo on “Promise Man” tips a hat to Neil Young, and certain chord changes and harmonies on the following track “GirlFriends” feel more than passingly influenced by Graham Nash and his early band The Hollies.
Part of Renick’s fever dream vibe and musical prowess is his ability to blend an obvious influence with a polar opposite vibe, contrasting the Nash-influence on “GirlFriends” with some sonic synth sounds, to craft an experience that always feels fresh and unique.
“Rescue Them” is playfully folksy, a love letter to rescue animals that pays equal tribute to Renick’s Paul Simon and John Prine influences. The earnest sweetness with which Renick delivers these lyrics is genuinely heart-warming. And the Crazy Horse-inspired guitar solo really helps the track “pop”, as they say.
”Grateful (In Memory of F.W.H)” helps crystallize the aspect of the albums concept, in which every song feels like an original statement, expressed through the musical milieu of a particular artistic voice running through Renick’s subconscious. In this case, Renick’s paean to a fallen friend hits the same emotional nerve hit by many of the album tracks on Joni Mitchell’s Blue, with Renick’s composition including a compelling orchestra interlude.
“If We Can Keep Dancing” is truly heart-wrenching. While it stands out as one of the more upbeat pieces of music here, Renick’s delivery applies an innocence-fueled optimism that seems doomed to disappointment and failure.
“Fast and Off” serves as Renick’s attempt to write the perfect cruising-down-the-highway song. It succeeds, largely because Renick is creating music here less focused on lyrics or melodies and more occupied with existing in Renick’s broader stream-of-consciousness, sonic landscape. The musical buttons Renick pushes aren’t the most obvious, but they end up being the intelligent ones. While Clear the Way was recorded with five engineers over a lengthy period of sessions, every choice made fits nicely into the gestalt of Renick’s vision and storytelling.
“Different Without You” is another evocative vocal performance from Renick. The song is a lovely exercise in creating surf rock for the emo set. The track really connects, especially as another set of more painful lyrics juxtaposed against music so upbeat.
“These Things Happen” offers Renick’s grunge statement. While the fourteen songs here are all clearly best appreciated in the context of this song cycle, this one stands out as one of the tracks that invites repeated listening on its own terms. With Young ever-serving as one of Renick’s greatest heroes, it makes perfect karmic sense that Renick’s inner grief and angst is well-explored on a track that would feel right at home on either Young’s “Freedom” or “Ragged Glory” albums.
The instrumental “Mousie Goes Scampering” nicely sets up the last act of Renick’s journey. “Just Movin’ On”, Renick’s nod to California country-rock, serves as a great anthem of resilience.
In Renick’s quest for resolution, “Bites” offers a nearly-final attempt to try and address his remaining melancholia over fractured relationships and lost intimacy. “Bites 2: The Ever Lingering Mood” is another soundscape combining upbeat rhythms with some stirring keyboard tones and stunning sound effects alluding simultaneously to nature and technology.
“Clear the Way” serves as both the album’s final and title track. This is as good an example as any as to the kind of lyricism in which Renick is most comfortable trafficking. His first-person narrative – confessional, pained, brutally honest – is an accomplished example of using lyrics and storytelling as personal reportage. Renick’s lyrics, often like Mitchell’s – one of Renick’s earlier-cited heroes – tell you what they’re about, and narrate in a literal sense the stories that are being communicated. That doesn’t serve to any detriment to the songs or album as a whole. If anything, it’s a well-employed contrast to the vast and expansive canvas on which the experience of Renick’s album exists.
“Clear the Way” is an important work and a meaningful achievement of Renick’s. Whether it sells five copies or five million doesn’t change that. However, this incredible work of art could be the exact kind of album that creates or serves as a soundtrack to meaningful experiences in listeners’ lives. It’s worth your time, if only to give a cursory listen to see where Renick’s song cycle might take you.
"I wanted to take a moment to express my appreciation for the beautiful song you shared, 'Walking Along.' It truly captivated my heart and soul. The gentle melody accompanied by your heartfelt lyrics, created a serene and soothing atmosphere. The song resonated with me deeply, as it conveyed the universal experience of introspection and contemplation during a solitary walk. The way you effortlessly blend melancholic and uplifting tones reflects the complexity of human emotions. Your music has a remarkable ability to touch the deepest corners of the soul and evoke a range of feelings."
"Your song 'Something So Wrong' is hauntingly great. Major kudos!"
Emily, Montreal, Quebec
"You work so hard and everyone can feel it in your music. 'Different Without You' is my favorite tune on your list. You're so inspirational, and I thank you for that!"
James, Fort Lauderdale, FL
"Your music is absolutely awesome and reflects my mood for today. I can't stop listening to 'Figure Out.'
It sounds like you put in some solid work!"
Cornell C, Gateshead, UK
"Magic may not be real, but your songs are truly magical."
Irma G, Grand Rapids, MI
"Multi-talented, diverse...listening to Renick's music is like taking a breath of fresh air. I find it refreshing that this artist's music taps into so many different genres while at the same time bringing a sense of connectedness to one's life experience."
Amy Barfield Martin, CD Baby customer
"I haven't heard such diversity of lyrics, music and overall sound on one pop CD in a long time. Your new CD Close To Something Beautiful is a beauty. Major kudos!"
Philip Gounis, St. Louis poet