Beyond ‘Kiss Me’: Sixpence Reunites with New Album
It's been 14 years, almost to the day, since Sixpence None the Richer released the irresistible pop single "Kiss Me." That song dominated radio, anchored the movie "She's All That," peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's Hot 100, and provided a romantic backdrop for the June 1999 wedding of Britain's Price Edward – at the request of the royal family, no less. Now that’s some kiss.
Hits of that magnitude can give a band plenty to coast on for a decade or more. Yet longtime Sixpence fans know that for singer Leigh Nash and guitarist Matt Slocum, it’s never quite that simple. The new Lost in Transition marks the first full Sixpence album since 2002's Divine Discontent. In between, there's been a breakup, solo discs, domestic dramas, music business wrangling, and new kids, including Nash's son Henry, now 8.
"I was seven or eight months pregnant when we broke up," Nash says, recalling the 2004 band split. "I wish we had called it a break, but I was exhausted and felt like I couldn't do it any more – and we just were booth very exhausted with the music business. We'd just both had enough."
Yet whatever disillusionment the industry dished, it couldn't squelch the creative spark between Slocum and Nash. Produced by Jim Scott (Wilco, Crowded House), Transition hums with iridescent pop glow and flow to put it on par with Sixpence's best work (even the self-titled 1997 album that went platinum and spawned "Kiss Me").
"Jim's known for being a guy where it's hard not to be chilled out when you're around him," Nash says of the producer. "We'd read about that before we worked with him; he's super easy to be around and a lot of fun, and that really helped us out a lot. And once we started talking about the record, it was great that we were on the same page."
As the title implies, Transition also marks a new chapter for the band that is both redemptive and redefining. Nash's voice, billowy and sweet as ever, now sports an understated fray around the edges. No doubt she's been through a lot; she lost her father (a subject covered in the song "Sooner Than Later"), and soon after divorced PFR drummer Mark Nash in 2007.
Life Goes On
Yet Nash had plenty to distract her from falling into a rut. The challenges of raising a toddler and restoring the band she's been in since age 13 gave her plenty to do – not that those were easy tasks, either. Nash and Slocum (now a father as well) first broached reuniting Sixpence in late 2007, though they tabled recording an album for more than three years as they sorted through professional snafus.
"Business complications have unfortunately been part of our history," Nash acknowledges. "It was a frustrating time, but now it's less frustrating than it's ever been."
Part of Sixpence's liberation comes from gaining creative control over their work. The new album is essentially self-released, with help from The Orchard, an independent music distributor co-founded by legendary producer and songwriter Richard Gottehrer (The Go-Go's, "My Boyfriend's Back"). "They help to quarterback it, but we’re able to maintain a lot of our independence, and so we're in a really good place," Nash says.
Nash has also stepped forward as a poised songwriter, collaborating on five of the album's cuts. There's another key player in the reformed Sixpence: her guitarist husband Stephen Wilson, also a co-writer on Transition.
Though she has a reputation for shyness, Nash sounds downright proud when assessing the album. "Whether someone is a brand-new fan or an old fan, it's really beautifully done, by a band that has been together for 20 years," she says. "We're more seasoned as humans, more mature and hopefully wiser. And the songs are personal, as always."
The album plays with tensions, often pitting bright pop craftsmanship against darker subject matter. In the song "Failure," Nash delivers Slocum's lament with deadpan resignation: "Time is not my friend anymore." Ask Nash to name a favorite song, and she points to Slocum's "Safety Line" as "one of the best songs Matt has ever written. It's a classic melody, beautiful words, and it's just such a fun song to sing." Nash's vocal yelps dart lithe and breathy against a piano line pulsing with Beatlesque rhythm.
Though you'll find lyrical references to amazing grace and the like, Transition is not a “Christian music” record, nor does it purport to be. Instead, its songs faithfully reflect a Christian worldview that allows the band to appeal, without artistic compromise, to fans of all stripes.
Nash may proudly call Nashville her home, but she's clearly uneasy about being pigeonholed as a Christian music artist. On the one hand, "We never decided to make our music come off as less Christian," she says. "Matt has been the primary writer for the band and his lyrics are always deep and thought provoking, and part of that is who is as a Christian.” But on the other, "I've always struggled with who we are because I've seen it one way, but observers have seen it another."
She also realizes that for all the maturity and vibrancy informing the new album, a certain legion of Sixpence faithful still know and adore the band for "Kiss Me." Has it become a shackle of “Freebird” proportions? "To a point," Nash says. "People still ask for us to do acoustic performances of it and to film it, and we do it at all of our shows. But we want to be known for our new material as well. That would be fantastic."
Regardless of how the band's fans react, Nash and Slocum remain mutual fans and cheerleaders. They also intend to keep Sixpence 2.0 going for as long as they can. "I don't think we'll mess with this long a break again," she says. “I don't think either one of us wants to go through that a second time."
Copyright 2012, watchgmctv.com. For permission to repost or reprint, click here.
A former senior writer at CCM and Chicago Tribune music critic, Louis R. Carlozo is a Chicago-based music producer and the co-owner of Kingsize Sound Labs recording studio.
News You May Also Like
From creative control to fundraising with soul, Lou Carlozo investigates compelling reasons to stay independentIt's tough to become a rock star, or a gospel music standout. But how tough? Even the phrase "million-to-one shot" has become obsolete: More than seven million bands and...
The songstress invited some friends to join her on several cuts, giving the album the feel of an intimate gathering. James Taylor, Carole King, Sheryl Crow and Grant’s husband, Vince Gill, among others, all make appearances on the record.Grant says she’s learned the art of choosing the...
Every song is a chapter taken straight from the singer-songwriter’s life, detailing the highs and lows of the past decade – the marriage of her step-daughter, the 2010 Nashville flood, the unexpected deaths of close family and friends and the struggle of both her mother and her father...
Download of the Week
Pivotal scenes in a movie are even more exciting and inspiring with great music. Listen and download a song from the...