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June 26, 2009

A delightful, genre-crossing, musical experience
Review: Jeremy & Rebecca - What We Leave Behind
Independent Music Reviewer
Heath Andrews

Something that becomes immediately clear in the first thirty seconds of Jeremy & Rebecca's album What We Leave Behind, is that Rebecca Hendrickson has an incredible voice that crosses musical genres. Further listening (and some reading of liner notes) reveals that Jeremy Hendrickson is a remarkably good producer and he has crafted an immaculate sounding record. A husband and wife duo, the Hendrickson's collection of twelve songs touch warmly upon topics of love, family, legacy, faith and testaments to the appreciation they share for each other. Despite the glaringly personal nature of many of the songs, the themes are accessible for any listener of pop/rock, country, and gospel, as elements of all these sounds feature in the sound of the album itself, and Rebecca's voice.

The list of musicians on this album is staggering, what with all the strings, saxophones and vocal choirs that are employed to give each song a full and anthemic kind of sound. The second track, Flyer, actually could've functioned as an instrumental considering the swirling sound of violins and saxophones that create a sense of flight. Fortunately, Rebecca's powerful voice fits in beautifully, culminating in a stunning moment where her voice soars into a saxophone solo...and just for a brief instance, the two sounds become one, and then their own.

But stripping away the extensive production features still leaves a solid trio of musicians, generally consisting of Jonathan Hendrickson (brother) on drums, Paul Serpa on guitars, and Matt Mangano on bass. Jonathan's drum sound is crisp and never more powerful than necessary for the song at hand; a very important feature of his playing since it could otherwise drown out one of the multitude of other instruments. Serpa is primarily responsible for the album's rock edge. His solos can snarl out notes amongst a gospel choir and not feel out of place, instead adding a nice intensity to the music.

Aside from being the album's producer, Jeremy Hendrickson is also the songwriter. While the music itself is consistently strong, the lyrics aren't always at that level. When the two are taken together, there's a very nice synergy that gets created. So even if the words have nothing new or revolutionary to say about love, it all sounds fresh when the astonishing arrangements take hold. Rebecca's voice is also a vital instrument in conveying the songs. The way she belts out every phrase is extraordinary.

Jeremy takes lead vocals for a couple songs, and though his voice is nice and pleasant, it doesn't have the bristling energy of Rebecca's. When Jeremy and Rebecca duet, (Title track, Made To Love You, Why Strive) is when Jeremy's voice is at its best, with the first of these duets being one of the best songs on the album.

What We Leave Behind is a strong first outing for this beautiful sounding duo. From the opening country rocker of Fool, to the surprisingly slow jazz closer of Have You Got The Time, there's a lot to enjoy here, thanks to the remarkable talents of a husband and wife with a love for each other and a love for music that all come together for a delightful musical experience.