DETROIT — Sixpence None the Richer brings the reunion it started in 2008 to fruition this summer with the Aug. 24 release of Strange Conversation, the Nashville pop group’s first new album in eight years.
After announcing their band’s dissolution in 2004, Sixpence principals Leigh Nash and Matt Slocum got back together in late 2007, releasing an EP, My Dear Machine, and the holiday album The Dawn of Grace in 2008. However, Strange Conversation is the culmination of the band’s effort to take its time and build up to a full set of new material.
“It was like warming up before you go out to pitch, that’s what we were calling it at the time,” said Nash, who in 2006 released Blue on Blue, a solo album that gave her the confidence to write half of Strange Conversation‘s 12 tracks. Once the album came together, Nash said that Sixpence’s members had redeveloped a relationship with each other.
“Just getting the gears turning again took some time. By the time we hit the studio with these songs, we felt like we were a band again,” Nash said.
Sixpence recorded Strange Conversation in January and February in Nashville with producer Jim Scott. Longtime bassist Justin Cary took part in the sessions, while Greg Leisz was brought in to play pedal steel. Slocum claimed that the album does not contain “any major points of departure” from the group’s other releases, although it appears a conscious decision was made to strip back the production and eschew the layering and orchestration that marked the band’s previous albums.
“I think we tried to really make a choice not to put a whole lot on there, and just to have minimal elements to leave room for Nash’s voice,” Slocum said. “It’s more sparse, pretty much band performances with limited overdubs, and her voice seems to shine more. It’s great to sort of have the chemistry of just five people in the room playing together as opposed to sort of building and building and putting more and more stuff on it.”
Nash and Slocum, who co-wrote the album with a variety of collaborators, were also intrigued to find out that their individual songs wound up sounding like a dialogue between them — inspiring Strange Conversation‘s title.
“Matt and I have never been the best communicators with each other,” said Nash, who first joined forces with Slocum in 1992. “I think we do fine in other relationships, but while we’re friends and have a great time together, there’s just not proper communication, so some of it gets done in songs. There are some really sweet songs here that I’ll always be able to look back on as communications from my friend Matt, and I got to sing them to myself. It’s weird, but it’s really sweet.”
Sixpence, which has done a limited amount of live performances since reuniting, is currently scoping out tour plans to support the release of the new album. Nash and Slocum also said they are already talking about doing other albums and a full set of covers, instead of episodic forays like their treatments of the La’s “There She Goes” and Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over.”
“We’re excited about just making music and not stopping,” Nash said. “We’re not looking for fame or to get super loaded or anything like that. We never quite did it right the first time around. This time we’d like to make it a little simpler and just keep making records. That way we can build some trust, so fans know, ‘OK, Sixpence, they’re going to have another record in another two years. You can just kind of count on it.’ That’s what we’d like to work on rebuilding.”