Wednesday , February 21 2024
The '90s star enlisted legendary bassist Tony Levin, some humpback whales, and her own emotional depth.

Independent Spirit Paula Cole Returning with First Indie Release

It’s no big news in the 21st century when a major-label artist goes indie. But 17 years after Paula Cole’s big 1990s hits, her independent debut marks a striking turn in a quirky career.

Remember Paula Cole? If not her name, you probably know her once-ubiquitous hit “I Don’t Want to Wait,” which served as the theme song to the mystifyingly popular teen soap Dawson’s Creek. That single and the more eccentric “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” came from her breakout self-produced 1996 sophomore album This Fire, which resulted in a Best New Artist Grammy and a nomination for Producer of the Year, the first such nod for a solo woman. But tastes are fickle, her next album wasn’t nearly as successful, and after 1999 she took a long hiatus.

After eight years Cole returned to the recording studio with a new label, and released two albums that didn’t make much of a splash. But with Raven, her brand new disc, coming out April 23 as the first she’s released without a label, she could be poised for a renaissance.

Raven‘s 11 songs are full of Cole’s trademark liquid leaps from her mellow mid-scale vocals into soprano territory. They feature some arty, non-traditional arrangements, like the dark atmospherics of “Manitoba” and “Imaginary Man”; the elemental thumps (along with bassist Tony Levin’s Chapman stick) driving “Billy Joe”; and the Nirvana-like dynamics of “Secretary.”

In addition to Levin, the backing musicians include some humpback whales, and everyone’s under Cole’s control: Always an independent spirit even when signed to a major label, she took the reins in the studio for this project as well. Bringing to bear all her songwriting maturity, emotional depth, and a voice that’s gotten a little richer while losing none of its clarity and range, she’s making a strong play to gain a fresh audience, or at least reel in more of those young alt-rocking 1990s fans who’ve since gone off to listen to who knows what.

About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

Check Also

Concert Review: Live and Bush – The ALT-IMATE Tour

Live and Bush, two iconic alt-rock bands, took to the road in celebration of their seminal albums.