The last time Michelle Branch released a full pop album, 2003's Hotel Paper, she was 20 years old. Now, after a successful detour through Nashville with the Wreckers, Branch is making her return to pop/rock with West Coast Time.
"In a strange way, it's my most youthful sounding album," she tells Rolling Stone. "I was so adamant about proving myself for so long and I've gotten to the point where I don't have to do that as much. Ten years into it, I can finally go, 'Oh, I just want to make a record that's fun to make and I don't have to prove that I deserve to be here.'"
She attributes a lot of that assurance to her husband, child and just plain maturity. "I'm just more comfortable in my own skin now," she says. "I think I'm also more open to other writers being present and listening to other opinions, whereas before I was going through my angsty teen years while making records."
In fact, Branch wound up going to London to collaborate on West Coast Time with Jim Irvin and Julian Emory, who wrote more than half the record and also produced a number of songs. "The reason why I tracked them down is I'm a really big fan of Lissie and they had done some work on her record I just fell in love with it," she says. "You could tell it was written on acoustic guitar and vocal, but then at the same time it sounded commercial and modern."
The record will come out next year, with Branch having just gone back into the studio to record a few more tracks. So, what does it sound like? "This sounds cheesy, but it sounds like Michelle Branch grown up, The Spirit Room ten years later," she says. "I feel like it has a modern edge to it."