Edie Brickell's daughter said to her the other day, "How come people know Dad and they don't know you?"
To which Brickell's only comeback was a giggling, "Wise guy, eh!"
The fact is that while many people know Brickell as the frontwoman for the New Bohemians, the band popular for its '80s hit "What I Am,' the singer's three children don't. Not yet anyway. Her husband, by the way, is pop icon Paul Simon.
This month, Brickell marked her return with "Volcano,' her first solo album since 1994's "Picture Perfect Morning."
The new album that USA Today writes "sounds ... like a mature woman who has embraced life's quirks and challenges' is a big departure from any of Brickell's previous work.
But she's highly critical of her musical past. Embarrassed, even. The work she did with the New Bohemians was far too green to reflect her own
personal tastes, she says.
She allowed herself to be pressured into recording her 1994 solo debut when "what I really should have done is stopped and got my act together ... learn ... because I wasn't getting it right.' But by that time she had already lost interest in continuing her music career. In fact, she was ready to call it quits after the first New Bohemians release hit -- and for good reason.
"I had met the love of my life and wanted to have kids,' she says. It was this longing for family life that distracted Brickell from "Picture Perfect Morning,' and it showed. The album was so poorly received that Brickell, who was pregnant at the time, decided not to even bother with a tour.
Instead, Brickell walked away from music in the mid-'90s so she could raise her family with Simon, her husband of 13 years. Now with his support and the comfort of knowing that all their kids are in school, Brickell is giving music another shot.
During the years spent raising her children -- a luxury the Texas native herself never had growing up in her single-parent household -- Brickell practiced a lot. "Music for me didn't go away,' she says. "I just kept growing with it.'
Brickell used her time away to study with Howard Morgen, the finger-style jazz guitarist. "That was something I really needed to do all along,' she says, explaining "just so I could play up and down the neck of the guitar and not just your basic root chords.' She says learning this helped her to finally write the kind of music she had always heard in her head. Some of that music now appears on "Volcano.'
Brickell found the courage to make the album from friend and drummer Steve Gadd, who in 2002 approached her about getting back to the studio. "He showed me how easy it can be ... whereas before it was always a bit of a struggle,' she says. "And he captured a live spirit that I've always wanted to hear.' Gadd helped put together a band for Brickell. Then fellow Texan Charlie Sexton came on board as producer.
"The great thing about Charlie is he wanted to represent the songs that I'd written as they were,' she says. "He really got where I was coming from -- and then he added his gorgeous playing all over it.' The result is a 13-song collection of rootsy rock with strains of jazz and country.
While Brickell is thrilled about reconnecting with her roots as a singer-songwriter, she still worries about doing right by her kids. "Of course my mom's going to make sure they're getting their hugs in ... so I feel very comfortable knowing that,' she says. "But I just really hope I'm doing the right thing.'
Sandra Barrera, [email protected]