jeudi, février 23, 2006

Sixpence Nash Goes Solo

After more than a decade, Nashville pop singer finds her own voice.

It's been nearly eight years since Sixpence None the Richer singer Leigh Nash's winsome vocals invaded radios with the band's summer staple and teen-flick fave "Kiss Me." In that time, Nash has garnered a wealth of material from which to draw inspiration: She and her mates amicably called it quits in 2004, and Nash gave birth to her first and only child, Henry, the same year. These radical shifts fueled the singer's solo debut, due this summer.

"It's definitely been the period of the most change of my life," says Nash. "It's a really rich, emotional time for me. Plenty of inspiration with my first child. And my husband and I have been married for ten years now, so of course there's a lot of relationship stuff to write about. [The album] was good timing."

Produced by Pierre Marchand (Sarah McLachlan) and currently in the mixing stage, the as-yet-untitled album was recorded throughout the fall in Canada, and is suffused with the mature pop in the vein of Sixpence. Among the new tracks are "Between the Lines," "Nervous in the Light of Dawn" and the delicate ballad "Along the Wall," which Nash says is her favorite.

"That's the first song that [Pierre and I] wrote together when we first met," she says. "I like just the mood of it. It's very beautiful, piano-based, and I tend to like songs like that."

Nash entered the music business in her teens after meeting guitarist Matt Slocum at a church retreat in Austin. The two, initially rounded out by bassist T.J. Behling, formed the Christian rock outfit Sixpence None the Richer (the name taken from C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity) and released four albums. But following the release of 2002's Divine Discontent, which suffered lengthy label tangles before hitting shelves, both Slocum and Nash decided to disband.

"Matt and I had basically been thinking the same thing during the months leading up to the breakup," she says. "I had heard that he didn't want to make another record, so I called him and said, 'If you don't want to make the record, and I don't, then what are we doing?' It was a pretty easy conversation to have. We were both just so tired. We are still friends."

In spite of her thirteen years with Sixpence, Nash isn't a stranger to solo outings. She recorded the song "Need to Be Next to You" for the soundtrack to the 2000 romantic film Bounce, and she made guest appearances on albums by surf-guitar rockers Los Straightjackets and electro-dance outfit Delerium. But Nash is thrilled to finally be releasing her first solo effort. "I'm already excited about making another record," she says. "Just the exploration of me as a writer has been an unbelievable experience, and I think it's just the beginning."

In the meantime, Nash is also throwing her weight behind Movement Nashville, a small group of musicians -- including AutoVaughn, Jeremy Lister and Bang Bang Bang -- dedicated to promoting the diversity of the city's music scene. "Of course, most people think of country music," she says of Nashville, where she also resides. "But there is a really vibrant, thriving rock scene. It's unbelievable, but it really gets underrated. And it's nice to be around musicians who are kind of brand-new."

Though she's currently playing sporadic gigs to support Movement Nashville's efforts, Nash plans to launch a full tour following her album's release. And should the whole "music thing" not pan out, the singer's got a backup plan: "Working at Wal-Mart," Nash deadpans. "That's where I'm headed after this."

Jessica Robertson @ Rolling Stone