Summerthing 2011: Michelle Branch

michellebranch385 01 Summerthing 2011: Michelle Branch

[photogallerylink id=76690 align=left]Everything Comes And Goes–Grammy-winner [lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Michelle Branch[/lastfm]’s first solo effort since 2003’s Hotel Paper–is much more than just “another day” for this twenty-six-year old recording artist. Branch’s compelling new album for Warner Nashville has been long in the making and well worth the wait. This is a deeply personal statement of purpose from a singer-songwriter who’s already experienced success in a variety of formats over the course of nearly a decade as a recording artist. Yet for all that she has already accomplished in her life, Everything Comes And Goes is a breakthrough effort–once and for all establishing Branch as a significant, grown up talent in her own right.

[photogallerylink id=11404 align=left]Everything Comes And Goes also represents Branch’s first project since she enjoyed her first country smash with 2006’s acclaimed album Stand Still, Look Pretty by The Wreckers, the duo with which Branch made an inspired vocal and songwriting collaboration that was nominated for both a CMA Award and a Grammy. The popularity of The Wreckers helped establish Branch as a fixture of country radio, thanks to such winning country tracks as the #1 smash “Leave The Pieces” and the Top Ten hit “My, Oh My.”

True to its philosophical title, Everything Come And Goes documents what became a complicated and emotional time in the life of Branch, who first moved to Nashville four years ago with her musician husband Teddy Landau to make music and start a family. According to Branch, Everything Comes And Goes–produced by John Leventhal and John Shanks (“My Two Johns,” Branch calls them with a laugh)–reflects what she calls “two break-ups the past year or two” — with her former partner in The Wreckers and with a longtime manager.

Further complicating matters for Branch, The Wreckers decided to split just as the duo was rising on the charts and appearing on a very high-profile country tour with Keith Urban and about to perform on the CMAs. “We wanted to keep it quiet and fulfill all our obligations,” Branch recalls. “But it became very hard and emotional.”

Thankfully, the surprise split of The Wreckers led directly to the creation of Everything Comes And Goes. “We were in Canada on Keith’s tour when it hit me we weren’t going to be able to continue, and it hit me pretty hard. I was on the bus that night and I couldn’t sleep,” Branch recalls. “That’s when I wrote `Everything Comes And Goes’ which was the first song I had written by myself in two years. Sitting in the tour bus at five in the morning with the sun coming up and having written that song — that was the start of me saying, `That’s it. I’m making my own record next, and that doesn’t have to be a sad thing.’ I’ve always been kind of a control freak, so it was actually nice remembering I could write on my own. And that song captured everything I was feeling at that moment — that change is inevitable, that it’s part of life. So instead of dwelling on everything, I should just do what I do and write some songs.”

That’s the same creative spark that helped make Michelle Branch a big star in the first place at a very early age. Born in Sedona, Arizona, Branch took voice lessons at eight, got her first guitar by fourteen, and instantly became obsessed with songwriting. That same passion resulting in Branch releasing her first independent album Broken Bracelet and signing her first major label record deal with Maverick before she turned eighteen. “You could say that I’ve always been obsessed with music.”

The Spirit Room–released in August 2001–went multi-platinum, and produced three substantial hit singles in “Everywhere,” “All You Wanted” and “Goodbye to You.” Branch’s reputation as a young musical artist with grown-up talent was further solidified in 2002 when she teamed up with Santana to record “The Game of Love,” which became an international smash and won a Grammy Award for “Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals.”

Somehow, Branch always stood apart from the other young women who were high on the charts at the time. “I was the odd rock girl out,” Branch remembers with a smile. “I wrote all my own stuff, and I didn’t really play dress up. I was just uncomfortable with all that. I was this girl from Sedona wearing Led Zeppelin T-shirts, hemp necklaces and baggy pants, so that whole sex kitten thing just wasn’t me. Fortunately, I think everyone really kind of recognized I wasn’t going to go there. But I was cleaning out my closet in Nashville recently with my manager Sheryl and I found the one cover of Blender I did where I had my midriff showing. It was a big deal at the time. Now that I have a kid, I was like “Damn, what was the problem? I mean, I definitely can’t show my midriff now.”

Still following the release of Branch’s darker and more ambitious 2003 album Hotel Paper-featuring the brooding Top Five hit “Are You Happy Now?”–and the birth of her first child in 2005, Branch found herself at a crossroads. “Before The Wreckers I was having a lot of trouble with–and I hate even saying this–all the pressures of being out on the road as a solo artist,” Branch remembers. “I wasn’t having much fun on the road, and the music started to get uninspired.”

“Recently, I was reading a quote from Katy Perry that instantly made me flash back to that time,” Branch confesses. “Katy said she’d just found out she had sold a million record or some milestone and she had no one to tell it to. The first few records when I was out on the road going and going, everyone in the band was older and I was often in a hotel room on the road feeling disconnected from reality. At the time, the record company really wanted another pop record and I just didn’t feel like I had it in me. The Wreckers became the perfect way to pull myself out of that and make some music I love.”

Now with the release of Everything Comes And Goes, Branch has clearly gotten her groove back as a solo artist with the help of her two Johns as producers, and an extraordinary group of musicians who recorded in Nashville, New York and Los Angeles, including Dwight Yoakum who is featured on “Long Goodbye.” The resulting album offers the powerful, emotional and ultimately life-affirming sound of a gifted singer-songwriter who left some pieces of her heart behind, but found some new pieces along the way too. “I never consider what an album’s about while I’m recording it,” Branch says finally. “But in the end, I guess that Everything Comes And Goes is really a record about passion–about wanting it, about losing it and then finding it all over again.”

Comments

One Comment

  1. Len says:

    I’ve been listening to Michelle since she first came out. I love her earlier stuff. When she became the Wreckers, I liked one of the songs, maybe two, but realized she was turning towards country. Which is a shame since I’m not into country. At all. I hope her new stuff does not have a completely country flavor. I am glad she’s coming to Summerthing though. I hope to hear her do some of her older material.

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