Michelle Branch talks new album, working with husband Patrick Carney and more

Musician Michelle Branch sat down with Yahoo Entertainment's Lyndsey Parker to discuss her new album, her up-and-down emotional state as of late, and much more.

Video transcript

LYNDSEY PARKER: First of all, Michelle, I want to thank you for viewing this interview. I know we were supposed to do it earlier, and we ended up not doing it for the obvious reasons. The first obvious question is, how are you doing? You seem like you're in a good mood.

MICHELLE BRANCH: It's because I was crying all morning. [LAUGHS]

LYNDSEY PARKER: Aw, I'm sorry.

MICHELLE BRANCH: I'm OK. I mean, it changes by the hour, honestly. Some days I'm good, and some days I'm not. So it just depends.


It's nice to have work to distract me.

LYNDSEY PARKER: Are you in the studio, the home studio right now, where you recorded this record?

MICHELLE BRANCH: I am. This is our home studio in Nashville. And this is where it happened.

LYNDSEY PARKER: I imagine what's transpired in recent weeks has kind of thrown some of this record into a new light for you.

MICHELLE BRANCH: Yeah, it's weird. I've been able to kind of compartmentalize the album and what's been going on recently. I just feel like my creative working relationship with Patrick is something that I really value, and I still-- that's not tarnished, and what we worked on together isn't tarnished. He's always been such a huge advocate and supporter of me in that regard.

So I have been able to kind of separate it. I don't know. I mean, he's the father of my children. I love him very much. I think, in a perfect world, we'll figure out a way to make it work. I don't know. I mean, it's just still so fresh and so raw. But there's a deep friendship at the basis of our relationship. So hopefully that will still be there, regardless of what happens in our marriage.

LYNDSEY PARKER: I actually at one point wondered if you would even put this record out, or maybe you'd delay it, or maybe you'd go back in to the studio you're in now and retool some things in light of the circumstances.

MICHELLE BRANCH: Yeah, you know, if anything-- I finished this record in 2020, and I have been sitting on it for so long. I was going to release it. At some point, it was going to be released, and then I found out I was pregnant with my daughter Willie. So then it got pushed back again. So for me, it's just like a snapshot in time, and I want it out. I think I'm just happy to make creative space for the next thing, release this, start focusing on the future.

LYNDSEY PARKER: Well, you spoke positively of the professional or creative relationship you had with Patrick. And I know he worked on your previous record. Obviously, Patrick's name is on it as a co-producer. But I'm under the impression that you took creative control, took the reins in a way that maybe you never had before on this record?

MICHELLE BRANCH: Yeah. I feel like, ironically, the last time that I had this much say in an album was on "The Spirit Room," was my first record, when I wrote most of those songs back then on my own in my teenage bedroom. And this record-- because of what was happening in the world, I didn't have any co-writers. I didn't have any session musicians I could call down to the studio and play. So it was the first time I rolled up my sleeves and was like, OK, I'm going to do this.

LYNDSEY PARKER: It sounds like you're already looking ahead to what your next record will be, which is exciting to hear. But are you experiencing any self-doubts or anything in light of the fact-- you know, what has happened with someone who was, personal stuff aside, a professional collaborator?

MICHELLE BRANCH: Therapy is incredible.


And I find a lot of solace in therapy and in doing the work. And so if anyone is out there and waiting for a sign to talk to somebody, go talk to somebody, because it's taken me 39 years to start going to therapy. So I feel like I'm in a better place now than maybe if I was in my 20s and this had happened, because I don't know if I would have reached out and talked to anybody else about it, besides my friends or whatever. But my friends were laughing, because I was like, you guys, I'm obsessed with therapy now, and I think I could go every single day.


LYNDSEY PARKER: Well, one of the songs I definitely wanted to ask about, from going back to "The Trouble of Fever," is "I'm a Man."

MICHELLE BRANCH: Yeah. "I'm a Man" was written in March of 2020. It was one of the first songs written for this record, of the new material written for the record. And the phrase "toxic masculinity" was being thrown around a lot.

And I started thinking of the pressure that men do have, to put a roof over someone's head, take care of a family, and all of the different obligations of what it means to be a, quote unquote, "man." And then I started thinking about how it feels to be a woman on the other side of that coin and everything that we have to deal with and how far we still have to go to even be equal.

And I feel like a lot of people were asking if I had written it more recently because of the timing of it being released with the overturn of Roe v. Wade. And it wasn't written recently. And this has been going on for a long time, unfortunately. And here we are in 2022, and this is still up for debate. It's shocking. It doesn't make any sense. I'm a mother of 3, and I'm nearly 40, and I can't make decisions about my body. And that makes me pissed off. So that's what that song is written about.

And also, I remember being in the studio when I first came out with the chorus. And I was singing it into the microphone, and Patrick was at the board, and he's like, what are the lyrics? What are you saying? You can't just trash half of the people on Earth. And I was like, no, I don't-- [INAUDIBLE] like trashing people. I have empathy for the pressure of what it must be to be a man. But in the same sentence, men, come on. Show up for-- where are you?

LYNDSEY PARKER: It's interesting, since you mentioned the whole putting a career on pause for motherhood. It seems like when we talk about the differences between men and women in the business, it seems like that doesn't happen as often or isn't as expected as often of male artists. Do you have any thoughts about that, especially since you just-- congratulations-- had another child very recently?

MICHELLE BRANCH: Being able to see Patrick going out on the road right now and struggling with the fact that he's not home and not able to see the kids as much has given me a new perspective of what it must be like to be a male. Leaving your family-- it's hard. I mean, there are days when my son who just turned 4 is in tears, like, I want Daddy to be home. Like why does Daddy have to play concerts? And it sucks sometimes.

And I'm getting ready to leave in less than a week on tour. And I'm going to bring my daughter with, because she's seven months, and I'm still breastfeeding. And I'm going to leave my kids with the nanny, and Patrick will be in and out from tour, and grandparents come in. It truly takes a village. So normalize musician motherhood, I guess.

I'm feeling strong for the shows. That's what's getting me-- kind of keeping me going. And there is an excitement about getting back on the road and playing those shows. But I'm like, hopefully I won't lose it and start crying on stage somewhere.


Just the other day I was rehearsing "Goodbye to You," and I was thinking of the line, "the last three years were just pretend." And that line hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm sure these songs will find-- as I go out on tour and start playing them, I'll find new meanings from what I wrote them about.

LYNDSEY PARKER: It sounds like you're already looking ahead to what you might do next now that this chapter is over. Are you writing about what's going on in your life or what has gone on in the past in your life?

MICHELLE BRANCH: I feel like I have a bunch of songs in the waiting room, just waiting for me to just have a minute to pay attention. And ironically, I think I'm going to have more time to do it on tour when I'm away, when I can be apart from the house and away from the kids and have time to focus on it. I'm sure it'll come pouring out. Definitely, I feel like it's time to get some of this stuff out on paper.