2024-07-14 4:35 AM

Press Pass: Paula Cole

presspassGOODThere was a time when Paula Cole thought her personal life and her professional career could not coexist. Now, with her latest release, Ithaca, the two are wound together closer than ever.



Paula Cole (Courtesy Photo)

There was a time when Paula Cole thought her personal life and her professional career could not coexist. Now, with her latest release, Ithaca, the two are wound together closer than ever.

On her fifth album, Cole lays out the emotional impact of her divorce for the world to see, with tales of heartbreak, pain, hope, renewed strength and new beginnings all dotting the album. Ithaca is Cole’s second album since the release of 2007’s Courage, which marked the end of an eight-year recording hiatus following the birth of her daughter, Sky.

The break marked an interruption in a stunningly successful early music career. In 1997, she earned a Grammy for Best New Artist, following her smash-hit second album, This Fire. That collection featured the highly memorable “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” and “I Don’t Want to Wait,” which became the theme song to the popular TV series “Dawson’s Creek.”

But after 1999’s release, Amen, she receded from the spotlight and even thought she was done with her career for a time, partly due to her daughter’s health condition.

“It was impossible when my daughter was young. I couldn’t even consider leaving her when her asthma was triggered so easily. I went through a frightening time with her health and safety in my hands,” Cole says.

Following some troubled times that included her divorce however, she found herself back in the business at the prompting of Blood, Sweat and Tears drummer Bobby Colomby.

Now she returns with her latest work on Decca Records, spelling out her recent struggles in detail (such as a song titled, “P.R.E.N.U.P”) but also celebrating her successful navigation of the rough waters. That’s what spawned the title, Ithaca, the home of mythical Greek hero Odysseus.

The album opens as a low point in Cole’s life with the tune “The Hard Way.” On it, Cole summarizes her less-than-desirable situation in gripping fashion.

“What a fall from Grace, what a cruel deceit / What a lack of love behind the sociopathy / Used me for your secrets, used me for some dimes / Breaking blood upon this single mother’s whipping hide.”

“Sometimes when I play or sing the songs now I am struck by how much I’ve gone through and how grateful I am to be singing about it instead of living it,” she says.

Though Cole’s lyrics seem to have more of a poetic quality in their structure, she seldom hides her meaning in metaphors. The closest she comes is with exulting third-track, “Music In Me,” which alludes to her realization that she is, in fact, a product of her parents – both musicians in their own right. She sees that she is like her mother and searching for a man who resembles her father.

The album reaches its emotional climax with track eight, “Somethin’ I’ve Gotta Say,” which recounts the many lessons Cole has learned over the turbulent past years. And with that track, which showcases Cole’s alluring soprano voice many will clearly recall from a decade before now – and possibly for decades to come. Regarding her future, Cole says she’s far from finished.

“Of course my mind wanders in dreamy moments about the next album … I think in ‘albums’ still…I have more I need to express,” she says. “And I need to make some recordings of standards. And I’ve always wanted to make a Christmas album. Lots to do.”

• For more on Paula Cole, visit paulacole.com. She performs Oct. 3 at the Birchmere. Tickets are $29.50 and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.






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