The ’90 chart-topper looks to the past to find new inspiration 

Lisa Loeb has spent the last few years steeped in the world of children’s entertainment. She released children’s albums in 2008 and 2011. She wrote a children’s book, and has a new one coming out in April. She started the Camp Lisa Foundation to send underprivileged children to camp. And she had her second child in June 2012. So what coaxed her back to making pop records?

“It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, and that I kept starting, but then would get distracted from it by other projects,” says Loeb, 44, of  No Fairy Tale, her first album for adults since 2004. “Finally, my friend Chad Gilbert inspired me and instigated this record. I was trying to find an opportunity to do it, but it took having a partner like Chad to push me to get it going without worrying about so many of the details in advance.”

Loeb met Gilbert after his band, the pop-punk outfit A New Found Glory, covered her hit song “Stay.” Gilbert had a radical new direction for Loeb, and roped in former tourmate Tegan Quin of twin-sister duo Tegan and Sara to write a couple of songs. “Chad and I were in touch over the years, but out of nowhere he said, ‘I want to do a poppy-punky-rock record, what do you think?’” she recalls. “He thought he was totally surprising me with that genre and some of the bands he referenced, like Tegan and Sara. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I actually listen to them for fun! That’d be awesome to make a record like that.’”

Gilbert also suggested the inspiration for the song “The ’90s,” in which Loeb revisits territory familiar to many fans. “The challenge of writing something that somebody specifically wants can be very daunting for me,” she says. “Once I started writing, I was like, ‘Oh, this is an interesting way to talk about a really specific event.’ I was writing about making the video for ‘Stay.’ I don’t usually write that literally.”

While she declares in the chorus, “I don’t want to go back,” Loeb doesn’t regret the reputation brought on by her early success. “I’m proud of that time period. I enjoyed myself, and people want to hear about it a lot.”

–Amanda Farah

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