She’s been recording music for more than 20 years, but acclaimed singer-songwriter Rebecca Pidgeon (Dr. Fallon) had a creative breakthrough as she began working on the album “Slingshot,” her compelling sixth solo effort. (Decca/Universal)
“I reached a point where I felt I had to take it more seriously and really make a 100% commitment to it, instead of saying this is something I do that’s not acting,” says Pidgeon. “I finally said to myself, ‘I am a singer and I’m really going to work on my voice. I’m really going to work on my playing, and I’m really going to own it’.”
Pidgeon does, indeed, “own it” on “Slingshot,” an intoxicatingly adult pop album that explores the intricate arc of love from desire to longing to despair. “I love the concept of the word ‘slingshot.’ It’s arresting. It’s such an unusual word to have in a love song,” she says of the buoyant title track: “‘I’m the rock and you’re the slingshot and you sling me into the stratosphere of joy’.”
The longtime friends, who worked on 2005’s “Tough On Crime” and 2008’s “Behind the Velvet Curtain,” took a new tack for “Slingshot.” “Before we started this project, Larry said, ‘We’re going to get really serious with this record. That means I’m going to be honest with you about certain things that I maybe haven’t been so honest with you before’,” recalls Pidgeon. “I was so glad. We decided let’s make the record that we think is the best possible thing we can make. We’re going to be brutal about these songs. We wrote many songs and threw out lots of them.”
In fact, Pidgeon wrote 35 songs for “Slingshot,” more than she has ever written for an album before. Working primarily with Klein and David Batteau on the “kernel of the record,” Pidgeon also penned tunes with Timothy Bracy and acclaimed singer/songwriter, Freedy Johnston including the deceptively jaunty, upbeat “I Love No One.” “I loved writing with Freedy,” she says. “We [both] tend to like stories about being rather bleak. It seems more interesting.”
There were some realizations along the way. On swampy “Disintegration Man,” Pidgeon and Klein set out to make “a real basic, dumb rock song,” before realizing it’s not as easy as it seems, Pidgeon laughs. “Since I’ve been learning guitar theory, I’ve been looking at all these rock stars who have their tattoos and drugs and I’m like, ‘You don’t kid me! You sat in your room as a teen for hours and hours practicing your scales’.”
“Slingshot” includes a co-production between Pidgeon and her husband, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright/film director David Mamet. The aching, largely a cappella “Baby Please Come Home” showcases Pidgeon’s vulnerable, intimate vocals. “It’s a humbling experience writing with him, he’s a master, so in terms of being an artist, I really sit at his feet,” Pidgeon says of Mamet. Plus, their previous efforts had been thwarted until Pidgeon learned “when we write songs, it has to be generated from me rather than from him...I hope we write more together. It really has to be the right set up.”
Though the country-tinged song, written in the tradition of a lonely Hank Williams ballad is haunting, Pidgeon says no one need worry about the state of her union. “I find it difficult to write about how much I love my husband,” she says. “I pull from other aspects of my life, from other people’s stories, from books, from other songs that resonate with me, because it is very difficult to write the perfect love song about being happy.”
The lone cover on the set is a stirring, poignant version of Warren Zevon’s “Searching For A Heart.” The chord progression first attracted Pidgeon. “Then I was drawn in by the lyrics. It’s so enigmatic,” she says. “It sounds like it’s so sparse, but it’s so complex. Every time I sing the song, I get something different from what he’s talking about.”
Pidgeon who headlined the Wine, Women & Song, a series of concerts that took place at female-run vineyards coordinated by wine company Women of the Vine has also shared stages with such artists as Marc Cohn, Keb Mo, Aimee Mann, Madeleine Peyroux, Jeffrey Gaines, and Peter Himmelman, to name a few as well as Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young at Farm Aid.
The singer looks forward to performing selections from “Slingshot” live, though as mother of a 13-year and 17-year old, she limits her time away from her Los Angeles home. “I [tour] in bursts. I do it for a few weeks and then I have to get back,” she says. “I’m not gone for six months.”
Plus, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts graduate continues to juggle her musical efforts with her extremely successful acting career. She recently appeared in “Red,” alongside Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman. Up next is a film about record producer Phil Spector and his recent murder trial. Pidgeon will star with Al Pacino in the film directed and written by Mamet.