NEW YORK (Reuters) - It is common for musicians who once claimed fame to try to hold onto it by any means possible, but folk-pop singer Edie Brickell is content simply to make music with little concern over recapturing her former stardom.
This January, the artist who first lured the media spotlight in the late 1980s, returns to record stores with two albums — a self-titled solo record and an album with a new band called the Gaddabouts featuring Brickell and drummer Steve Gadd, a longtime collaborator with her husband, Paul Simon.
Brickell, 44, started both projects years ago. The first sessions on her solo album took place in 2003, and the idea for the Gaddabouts band came up in 2000 after a conversation she had with Gadd in a hotel lobby following a Simon concert.
Over the years, Brickell released only two solo albums, and the Gaddabouts record marks the first band Brickell has joined outside her work with Edie Brickell and New Bohemians.
She recently played with The Heavy Circles, which was formed by her stepson Harper Simon, but she does not consider it a group because many different players performed on each track. She also noted that she has played in bands with several New Bohemian members and probably will again in the future.
Still, Brickell calls the Gaddabouts her first real band since the New Bohemians, in which she initially found commercial and critical success 22 years ago with the release of “Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars.”
For Brickell, those days of superstardom never felt right.
“There was too much attention paid to us,” Brickell told Reuters. “Too much selling around me that was embarrassing. I felt at that time that we had not earned this. But you can’t go out there and say ‘here we are, we’re embarrassed.’ We didn’t know how to stop the machine once it got rolling.”
Since 1988, Brickell’s output with the New Bohemians has been minimal. In 1990, the group released “Ghost of a Dog,” then largely became inactive as Brickell started her married life with Simon. In 2006, the New Bohemians released “Stranger Things,” their third and final album as a group.
After her 1992 marriage to Simon, with whom she has three children, Brickell’s focus shifted from making pop records to settling down and raising a family, a life that she said doesn’t suit record industry executives.
“When you sign with a record company, they really feel that if you’re going to be a responsible business partner, you’re going to be on the road for nine months,” Brickell said. “It didn’t make any sense for me because I couldn’t back up that part of the deal.”
Both of her new records display Brickell’s voice front and center — something that’s remained a constant over the years.
Many of the 10 songs on “Edie Brickell” feature her on piano, playing pop tunes that revolve around relationships. Although, she does tackle the pervasive use of prescription medicine on “Pills.”
Songs like “Bad Way” and “It Takes Love” pair Brickell’s voice with slower, R&B inspired arrangements, while “On the Avenue” sounds like one of her vintage rock songs that fans came to love in the late 1980s.
On “The Gaddabouts,” Brickell’s voice is paired with more mellow, acoustic driven folk-rock songs.
Tunes such as “Mad Dog” and “Let It Slide” find Brickell’s singing backed by a simple guitar arrangement, amid Gadd’s soft drumming. “Good Day” sees the group exploring more funky-blues territory.
Of her new work, Brickell said she is content just being able to record without worrying about sustaining her life through record sales and performances.
“For me, it was all about the songs and being a songwriter,” she said. Not ‘hey, look at me, here’s how I move.’ I’d like to keep my foot in the door and have some sort of semblance of a career (so) when my kids do get their own lives and move away, I can enjoy my creative life again.”
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte