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Edie Brickell ready for 'Picture Perfect' comeback

After taking decade off to raise children, singer-songwriter returns to the studio
/ Source: The Associated Press

Edie Brickell has a mischievous smile on her face when the singer says she’s a little jealous of her children’s musical ability. It’s understandable, considering their musical gene pool: Brickell is a platinum-selling artist and their father is Grammy-winning singer-musician Paul Simon.

“When I look at my kids, and the ease with which they pick up music, I wish I had that,” she said. “They are amazing musicians already.”

In her early 20s, Brickell walked away from the music business to have a family, despite huge success with the New Bohemians. A decade later, she decided she had too many songs lying around.

She recently released “Volcano,” an album plucked from her collection amassed while raising her three children, who are now 10, 8 and 5.

The melodies are laid-back, and her lyrics are more worldly than Brickell’s New Bohemian days. Her odd turn of phrase is familiar, and she still has an innate ability to tell a good story through song. “Once in a Blue Moon” is tinged with melancholy, and “I’d Be Surprised” has a jazzy edge.

“I really thought I could give it up,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press. “But I really love music, and having a creative outlet is really the best thing you can do for yourself.”

Brickell, 37, has shiny brown eyes and a warm, friendly voice. This day she’s dressed casually, wearing a bright, rainbow-colored scarf. She seems at ease sitting among the amplifiers and microphones in an empty rehearsal studio.

“Becoming a mom made me more contentious about expressing my true taste,” she said. “It made me not be afraid of being who I am.”

The album on Universal records was produced by fellow Texan Charlie Sexton.

“She was at the top of her game, the opposite of rusty,” he said. “The majority of the record is her singing with the band, and we just added a guitar or keyboard later. You don’t run across that a lot.”

'Picture Perfect' return
Sexton plays lead guitar on the album, though Brickell has taken years of lessons to improve her skill. Sexton said he wasn’t nervous to produce Brickell even though her last album, “Picture Perfect Morning,” was recorded in 1994.

“In music, there are moments when you know there is a connection,” Sexton said. “When I hear songs, I try to get to the root — the emotional hotspot of what the song is, and orchestrate around that. With Edie, I got that immediately. It was miraculous.”

The New Bohemians’ “Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars,” released in 1988, garnered widespread critical praise, spawning the top 10 hit “What I Am.” After disappointing sales with their next album, 1990’s “Ghost of a Dog,” they broke up. Brickell said she still jams with them when she goes home to Texas.

Brickell was performing “What I Am” on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” when she noticed Paul Simon standing in front of the cameraman.

“He made me mess the song up when I looked at him,” she said with a smile. “We can show the kids the tape and say, ‘Look, that’s when we first laid eyes on each other.”’

Brickell and the 62-year-old Simon, who have been married 12 years, have never recorded an album together. They’re just now talking about putting together a collection of children’s songs.

As for a von Trapp-style concert, Brickell said family singalongs are confined to the house.

“We love to sing silly songs with the kids,” she said. “Of course Paul harmonizes so beautifully, sometimes I just listen.”

She’s going to keep recording, and isn’t sure whether she will tour.

“During the school year we have piano lessons and school, and no matter what, our family is the most important thing.”