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Edie Brickell & New Bohemians back with new album: Q&A

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Friday, February 19, 2021

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Edie Brickell & New Bohemians took 12 years between albums prior to 2018's "Rocket."

And the group wasn't about to do that again.

"Hunter and the Dog Star" comes out Friday, Feb. 19, an 11-song set produced by Kyle Crusham at famed Arlyn Studios in Austin, Texas. It finds Brickell and her four bandmates confident and energized after touring to support "Rocket," exploring fresh paths in tracks such as the fleet album opener "Sleeve" and the rhythmic, rap-laced "Don't Get in the Bed Dirty," right up to the anthemic "My Power that closes the album.

The 1988 hit "What I Am" may still be the band's calling card, but "Hunter and the Dog Star" shows again that the Bohemians have plenty of new this to say with their music...

Was the intention to follow up "Rocket" very quickly?

Brickell: Oh yeah -- even sooner. This record was finished over a year ago and we wanted to put it out, but we were slowed down. We had intended to keep the momentum going, alive and make as many recordings as we could to express everything this band is capable of. And make up for lost time.

There's a real upbeat energy on this album. Did that come from playing shows after "Rocket" came out?

Brickell: Yeah. We have learned that it's a lot more fun to do upbeat music when you're playing live, so it was our intention to keep releasing songs that would be fun to play live.

Has the creative process changed much over the years?

Brickell: Y'know, when we all get together we have no shortage of choices because we're always improvising and making up songs. I keep my voice notes running on my phone when we get together and just start playing. Our means of discovery is really stream of consciousness, just playing and feeling and listening. It makes me feel really alive. What I find most exciting is we're tapping into the mystery of the band, and that unveils a number of songs. If you can capture a take as you're feeling it, that energy is transmitted to the listener. Many times our earlier records were sort of crafted, which made a lot of sense, but I respond to the energy and feeling that's conveyed just as it happens, and we're doing that even more now.

"My Power" is one of the standout tracks, and it has a message now that's probably more on-point than it was even when you recorded it?

Brickell: It sure does. It's good to be able to express that. That was also an improv; Kenny (Withrow) had a guitar riff he wanted me to sing over, and I said, "I don't want to sing over your riff. I want to give you space. I want to hear what you’re playing." He started getting a little aggravated and annoyed, and he went into the studio with the rest of the band. I'm in the (vocal) booth looking through the glass, and I'm thinking, "Edie, shake it off! He came in here with that idea and you darn well be a team player and get with it!" So the band started playing and I started singing over the riff, and I just started singing what's there on the song until I started singing 'my power!' I could see the band cracking up and smiling really big, and I thought, 'Oh boy, that really paid off.' When I relinquished my power to how I thought the song should go, I was literally given "My Power."

Since you're not able to tour just yet, what plans to you have moving forward?

Brickell: Luckily before all this happened we got a jam barn down in Texas, and we did a lot of video recording so we would have a lot of streaming content to support this album that we can at least offer if we can't get on stage again. I think we recorded the whole album and a couple of older songs, too. We had a friend come over and set up these nice little cameras all over the barn and we played and captured a lot and let our engineer Kyle, bless his heart, sort it all out. So those will come out over time, I think.

What else do you have on the creative docket these days?

Brickell: I loved writing that musical ("Bright Star") with Steve Martin so much that I've done some more. I have one that was about to go into workshop in April of last year and we had to put it off, so I cannot wait to go and do that. I have a Gaddabouts record that's sitting there, and I have a solo record I'm working on with Charlie Sexton that's on the back burner. And then Paul (Simon, her husband) and I started a duets record awhile back that we never finished, and we're determined to make that album. So there's a lot going on.

What's the album with Paul going to be like?

Brickell: We're hoping to make a very beautiful duets record, with beautiful harmonies. Any time anybody sings with Paul it makes them sound so much better; His voice is so beautiful and so soulful. I want it to be all original. I don't want to just got and pull from the past. I would like to write songs that are beautiful and have a classic sensibility to them -- something new that has a universal sense of time.

Are your kids showing any inkling of wanting to get into the family business?

Brickell: They all do it. They're all really musical. They're all very opinionated. (laughs) They're hilarious. Luckily they have a lot more self-confidence than I ever had. I enjoy watching them -- and learning from them.

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