New Again: Michelle Branch

In August 2001, at the young age of 18, Michelle Branch released her hit album, The Spirit Room. Through her catchy single “Everywhere” she became an alternative pop princess; in 2002 she won an MTV VMA for the accompanying music video and was nominated for “Choice Breakout Artist” at the Teen Choice Awards.

This spring, Branch will release her first album since 2003’s Hotel Paper. Titled Hopeless Romantic, the album was produced with Branch’s partner, Pat Carney of the Black Keys fame, and marks a new direction for Branch. With the title track, the Arizona native has taken her once-slumber party-worthy music and slowed it down. The heavy percussion, electric guitar, and keyboard influences take “Hopeless Romantic” to a place somewhere in the realm between dreamy and sexy.

The song’s music video, which premiered last week on Entertainment Weekly, perfectly reflects that sultriness. It first sees Branch hopping into a car and driving off, “running for her life,” as she sings in the chorus. Every shot is high-contrast, with bright lights casting shadows on parts of her face and body. Director Brian Higbee, a frequent Interview photographer, clearly put thought into each second of the video, carefully arranging it to reflect the poignancy of the song.

Still, despite her new sound and aesthetic, some things never change. Though music has evolved so much since the days of pin-straight hair and Converse sneakers, somehow, Branch has maintained her seat on the throne of alt-pop.—Katrina Alonso

Michelle Branch
By Dimitri Ehrlich

Suddenly, this singer is everywhere.

One day, when she was 15 years old, Michelle Branch was jamming in the garage of her home in Sedona, Arizona, when the phone rang. It was a family friend, who discovered that a potential customer she was pitching a condo time-share to managed musicians. “Get over here now!” the friend hissed to the aspiring young singer. Since her parents weren’t home, Branch “borrowed” a golf cart from the neighbors and raced across the city of Sedona at five miles an hour to put her demo in the hands of the man who would soon become her manager. Fast-forward three years. Branch, now signed to Madonna’s Maverick Records, has a hit album, The Spirit Room, and an infectious power-pop single called “Everywhere” that’s attracting fans on both MTV and VH1. Like her label-mate Alanis Morissette, Branch sings like a bitter veteran of love’s battlefields, but it’s mainly made-up: “When people ask me if I have a boyfriend, I tell them it’s my guitar because, really, it’s what I love and it’s what takes up all my time. I really don’t have time for anything else right now.”


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