It’s a delicate matter, balancing art and commerce. Musicians want to stay true to their muse and the creative spirit, but it serves no purpose to make something so insular and experimental that the general public can’t relate. Such a juggling act is at the core of the evocative new CD from singer-songwriter Paula Cole.
Known best for singing backup on tour with Peter Gabriel, Cole has released an often powerful collection that examines the emotional facets of being a woman. To her credit she straddles the gulf between making art and making money. There are songs with (for pop) nontraditional structures, songs with spoken passages and then songs with sing-along choruses. (Case in point: Her video hit “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” is a wistful glance at a fading marriage.) But even when she aims for the mainstream, Cole, who has a lovely, unfettered voice, doesn’t sacrifice the artist within. (Imago/Warner Bros.)