I’ve been a Paula Cole fan since her very first album, Harbinger, back in 1994. That album is feels like the spiritual sister of Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos or Fumbling Towards Ecstasy by Sarah McLachlan. It is full of heartbreaking, personal songcraft.
Around that same time, Peter Gabriel selected her to be the featured female vocalist on his “Secret World” concert tour. She had big shoes to fill, taking on the vocal challenge of Kate Bush’s part on “Don’t Give Up,” but she more than delivered. To this day, the “Secret World” concert is one of my all-time favorite live videos. I even have much of the stage banter memorized.
Although I regretfully missed seeing the Peter Gabriel concert in person, I did get a chance to see Paula Cole live. She was opening for Barenaked Ladies at the time, and hadn’t had her breakthrough hit yet. I was already a fan, though, and was thrilled to be at the edge of the stage for her performance. When she finished, she proclaimed, “My name is Paula Cole, and don’t you fucking forget it!”
It was her second release, This Fire in 1996, that catapulted her to the top of the charts, with songs like “I Don’t Want To Wait” and “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?” Those songs were ubiquitous on both the radio and featured on TV shows.
Paula’s latest effort is a collection of jazz and blues standards entitled Ballads. The album was first announced with a Kickstarter campaign last summer. After some delays, the record is finally set for release on August 11. The album is now available for pre-order on Paula’s website. You can hear the first single, Billie Holiday’s classic “God Bless The Child,” on the Billboard website by clicking here.