She’s been recording albums for more than 20 years, but Rebecca Pidgeon had a creative breakthrough as she began working on the music for “Slingshot,” her compelling sixth solo effort.
“I reached a point where I had to really make a 100% commitment to it, instead of saying this is something I do that’s not acting,” says Pidgeon.”I had to own it”
Pidgeon does, indeed, “own it” on “Slingshot,” an intoxicatingly adult pop album that explores the arc of love from desire to longing to despair. “I love the concept ‘slingshot.’ It’s such an unusual word to have in a love song,” she says of the title track: “‘I’m the rock and you’re the slingshot and you sling me into the realm of joy’.”
Other standouts include the yearning “Sweet Hand of Mercy,” that recalls Joan Osborne; the electric, driving “Disintegration Man,” the jazzy, noir-ish “A Lonely Place,” and the plaintive “Baby Please Come Home.”
The deeply melodic “Slingshot” marks the third time Pidgeon and Grammy-winning producer Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Madeleine Peyroux, Herbie Hancock) have collaborated. The two made an often intentionally quiet album that compellingly beckons the listener to lean in and pay attention. “There’s simplicity and air and space to it,” she says. “That was a conscious decision.”
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 wrote 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 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 my husband”, she said, “But he’s good looking so I subject myself to it”.
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 sparse, but it’s so complex. Every time I sing the song, I get something different out of it”.
Throughout the summer and fall of 2011, Pidgeon has headlined Wine, Women & Song, a series of concerts that take place at female-run vineyards coordinated by wine company Women of the Vine. “These women are entrepreneurs and artists”, she says. “The concerts with the wine tastings have been very lovely.”
Pidgeon has also shared stages with such artists as Aimee Mann, Madeleine Peyroux, Jeffrey Gaines, Peter Himmelman, and Keb Mo, and joined founders Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp and Neil Young at the 2011 edition of Farm Aid, Aug. 13.
She looks forward to performing selections from “Slingshot” live, though as mother of a 12-year and 16-year old, she limits her time away from her Los Angeles home. “I [tour] in bursts”, she said. “ I do it for a week or two and then I have to get back. I’m not away for six months.”
The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts graduate continues to juggle her musical efforts with her extremely successful acting career. She recently appeared in the film “Red,” alongside Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman. Up next is an HBO film about record producer Phil Spector and his recent murder trial. Pidgeon stars with Al Pacino and Helen Mirren in the film directed and written by Mamet. And she, of course, is the voice of “The Pear” in the hugely successful webisodes, “Home Grown.”