Lisa Loeb is feeling a little bit like Clark Kent these days.
“I go into a phone booth and I come out, and I’m a musician,” the singer-songwriter said in a recent interview with MusicNerd.ca. “I go play rock concerts and play on TV. And then I go into the phone booth and come back out as mom by day. Musician by night.”
Lisa Loeb never really went away, but you can probably be forgiven if you had lost track of her. The singer-songwriter best known for ’90s hits like the ubiquitous “Stay,” “Do You Sleep” and “I Do” along with those trademark cat-eye glasses, has been busy over the last several years having two children, releasing two albums of kids music and launching an eyewear collection, among other projects.
In January, she released her first “adult” album since 2004’s The Way It Really Is. Her latest, No Fairy Tale, was produced by New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert. While Loeb’s voice is unmistakable, and a couple of tracks sound like they could have appeared on her earlier records, much of the album has a pop sheen and more noisy guitars than you might expect. Even Tegan Quin of Tegan and Sara appears on the record (the twins wrote two tracks on No Fairy Tale).
Loeb can understand if listeners consider the new record “a return.”
“I guess it is a return as far as playing grown-up music,” she said. “I’ve been so busy doing other things that I haven’t actually gone anywhere. But it is a return to playing grown-up music. I haven’t been focusing on it as much. I have played gigs, and even leading up to this record I was writing the whole time. That’s how some of the songs came about, through the writing process over the last eight years. But for me, as a performer, an entertainer, I haven’t gone away because I’ve just been working.”
Since the album’s release, Loeb has been promoting it on television shows like The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Conan, and she has some U.S. tour dates lined up.
Loeb is quick to point out that family comes first, but she’s working on balancing everything. In fact, most of No Fairy Tale was recorded in late 2010 and early 2011, but becoming a mom took priority.
“I’m trying to learn about it,” she said of juggling family and career. “It would be such a great time to go on a huge tour with a band and be gone for like six weeks or eight weeks, but that’s just not what I’m going to do. I’m getting requests to play all over the world, and I’m just going to have to pick and choose. It’s great, but there are so many places I’d like to go. Even if my kids were a little bit older, maybe they could go with me because it’d be a really fun adventure because I know lots of people all over the place and it would be really fun for them to see the world, but they’re just too young for it still.”
Loeb says her music career helped prepare her for certain aspects of motherhood. Both have 24-hour schedules that require structure and discipline, and both can be a little exhausting at times.
“In a way, as a musician I was prepared for that because I’ve had crazy schedules before where you have to wake up three hours after you went to sleep and look like you can go on TV and play music and then you try to go back to sleep and wake up again a few hours later and do the same thing again,” she said.
Being a mom has also made Loeb ponder what kind of influence her music might have on her kids one day.
“I always thought it was important to pay attention to what I’m saying and how I say it and what it means,” she said. “I, over the last few weeks, have been thinking about how I thought I would be really more careful about what I wanted to say in my songs. And try to be more wise in my music and everything, but I think a better example for my kids is not to be the wisest person — even though I am excited when I find out something wise and I want to share it with somebody.
“But I think (it’s more important) just to be as expressive as I can. I think that’s so important whether my kids decide to be musicians or artists or not. It’s so important for humans to express themselves and for each person to be able to express themselves, even if it’s a common situation like a breakup or a frustration or an excitement or whatever it is … I think that’s such an important model to show my kids.”
Loeb is enjoying her place as a more veteran singer-songwriter and performer these days. On a track from her new album, “The 90s,” she recalls the chaos and success of her early days, but sings, “I don’t wanna go back.”
“It’s nice to be at a maturity level and an experience level where those things are a little bit more comfortable,” she said, referring to a recent Grammy Awards party. “There’s more of a sense of humour about it, for me, and less ego involved. It’s more (about) just appreciating the process of it. Of course, I always appreciate when goals are satisfied and lots of records are sold and people hear your music and they like it, but the process it also great. The life is an interesting one.”
We asked if she would be playing any Canadian dates and while nothing is set in stone, Loeb said she would like to perform here and she’s always enjoyed playing Canada.
“I’m trying to balance my personal life and taking care of my eight-month-old and my three-year-old and not being away too much with touring as much as I can,” she said. “So basically I need a clone, but you know it’ll be a process over the next year. I’m going to end up going to a lot of places and hopefully there will be ways to make it all work.”
With interests in cooking, fitness and even some “inventions” in mind, the always busy Loeb said she has to “remember to keep focusing on music a lot.” But she promises fans won’t have to wait another near-decade for another adult record. She actually has two in mind right now, one of which she envisions as a “very intimate acoustic record.”
“The writing can take a little bit of time. And I’m in a new phase now where I’m not a single girl, longing for love, so I have a lot of things that I was looking for for a long time. So it’ll be interesting to see what kind of stories I want to tell now. That’s going to take a little bit of time, but hopefully not eight years by any means.”
– Eric Lewis is a news reporter in Moncton, New Brunswick who contributes features to MusicNerd. He, for one, is glad to finally have a new Lisa Loeb record.