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07 September 2022

Michelle Branch On The Inspiration Behind Her New Album

Michelle Branch
Press/Sonya Jasinski
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Michelle Branch has spoken to Billboard about her new album, The Trouble With Fever, set for release on 16 September on Nonesuch Records.

Branch revealed, “It’s very strange having made this through the pandemic, and this album has been finished for so long. We were thinking of releasing it in 2021, and then I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, so we pushed it back. It kind of feels like this day was never gonna come, and it’s bringing up a lot of really nervous excitement. I feel like anyone who is sitting on finished work – they start to go like, ‘Should I have done this differently? Oh, I should have added this!’ It’s never good for me to sit on stuff for this long, and it’ll be really nice to have it out in the world.”

When asked if the process of returning to songwriting after a long layoff was nerve-wracking, Branch responded: “It was, and I really procrastinated on finishing the lyrics for some of them. Patrick [Carney, producer and ex-partner] would be like, ‘Michelle, we’re doing vocals tomorrow, have you finished those new lines?’ And I’d be like, ‘Uhhhh… I guess I have to do this!’ [Laughs.]

“But I found inspiration in a very unlikely source. David Berman, from the Silver Jews, has a book of his lyrics that’s up in the studio. And he passed away in 2019 before I ever got to meet him or got to know him. But I attended his service, and heard all the amazing people there speaking about him – and I was crying so hard, even though I never met him.

“And for some reason, he felt like the patron saint of this record lyrically, because I would sit there as we were working, and just kind of thumb through that book. Just the cadence, the way he writes, was really inspiring to me – the way that he’s just so direct. I feel like, especially in writing sessions with songwriters, you’re always trying to be clever, and find a metaphor or whatever. And I was like, ‘What am I actually trying to say? I should just say it.’ I just feel like I learned so much by reading the lyrics, and I would often find myself, as I was writing, saying, ‘What would David do?'”

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