Michelle Branch will return this year with her first solo album in almost 15 years. Hopeless Romantic, inspired both by her divorce from Teddy Landau and by her new relationship with the Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, who also co-wrote and produced the new set, is due for release April 7.
The 33-year-old has, so far, shared the set’s lead single, the smoky title track, and today EW premiered its accompanying video.
“The song is about the push and pull of a romantic relationship,” the singer-songwriter tells EW. “There’s always a kind of fear when you’re entering a relationship with someone; of, ‘Where will this go? Will I get hurt?’”
Thematically, she says, that fits right in with the rest of the set. “The album runs the gamut from break-up songs to tracks about finding love. So it seemed like the perfect [album] title from the moment we recorded it. That’s been the story-arc of the last three years of my life.” She adds, with a laugh, “And I am a hopeless romantic!”
Given it was going to be her first stint in front of the camera in a decade, Branch said enlisting a friend to direct was key for her comfort. For the clip, she called upon her pal, photographer Brian Higbee. “His stuff always skews a little bit darker,” she explains, “and I wanted this to be darker. I haven’t had a video out in so long, so I wanted to push the envelope in that sense, and not have something that was ‘cheery’ or what people expect from me.”
She sent him three videos to help illustrate the mood — Earl Sweatshirt’s “Chum,” Massive Attack’s “Ritual Spirit,” feat. Azekel, and Adele’s “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” — but otherwise got out of his creative way, she says. It worked. The result is a shadowy, sultry clip fitting of the tune.
Branch recently previewed some of the upcoming songs at an intimate show at New York City’s Bowery Electric venue. Carney, as well as Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley of Tennis completed her rocking backing band. She’s currently plotting a headlining tour for 2017 as well and promises that her back catalog will get plenty love on stage. “I am so proud of the old stuff,” she says. “A song like ‘Are Your Happy Now?‘ fits lyrically with the new stuff so well. And I love ‘Breathe‘ and ‘All You Wanted‘ so, if you come to a show this summer you will hear all of those songs, for sure.”
“Hopeless Romantic” is streaming exclusively on EW above. The album is currently available for pre-order.