With eight albums under her belt, Rebecca Pidgeon finally feels like a singer.
The Brit-born songwriter/actress may be best known for her turns in films by her writer/director husband David Mamet (The Winslow Boy, The Spanish Prisoner), but deep down she could never deny her musical voice.
"In the theater, often actors are singers and dancers, as well," she tells me in a recent phone call. "I'm an actress, but sometimes I prefer music and singing, because it's really me."
Pidgeon got her start in the biz by writing and recording two albums with her late-1980s band Ruby Blue, which played acoustic-tinged pop in the vein of The Sundays. A thread of that alterna-girl sound -- mixed with a bit of her native Scotland -- runs through her entire catalog.
The newly released Slingshot, Pidegon's sixth solo effort and third in a row produced by Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell), also hopscotches between pop and folk with a polished feel that steers it clear of country connotations. Co-written with Klein and indie-cred songsters Freedy Johnston, David Batteau and even one with Mamet ("Baby Please Come Home Again"), songs such as "A Lonely Place," "Get Up Get Out" and "Slingshot" are quietly cool -- much like Pidgeon's onscreen presence.
"It's an aesthetic choice," the mom of two says of her lilting, soft-spoken soprano, "and natural for my singing style. I have a fear of over-emoting."
But don't go thinking that all these tunes are slickly sweet. Listen closely and hear political undertones ("Disintegration Man"), ironic storytelling ("Is Anyone?"), and an erudite, modern-day love song ("I Still Feel That").
One of the album's most upbeat tracks, "I Loved No-One," showcases co-writer Johnston's signature catchy rhymes and dark twists -- with the added bonus of Pidgeon's matter-of-fact delivery and a few layered harmonies.
The song's lyric about regretting a bad date ("the deed was done, it was raining, and I loved no-one") sparked the idea for a Twitter competition to be judged by the Pulitzer-prize-winning Mamet. "Did you ever begin a night out excited about your prospects, then ended up walking home, filled with regret?" Tweet your worst date in 140 characters or less with the hashtag #ILOVEDNOONE to enter or click here. Mamet will choose his top 5 tweets and read them on camera to, according to Pidgeon, "be forever immortalized on the world wide web." Plus, the Grand Prize Winner will receive $500.
Pidgeon, who'll appear in Yoga Journal this September and will star alongside Al Pacino in a 2013 HBO biopic about Phil Spector directed by her husband, takes to the road July 11 for a singing stint supporting Marc Cohn and then a West Coast jaunt with fellow singer-songwriter Madeleine Peyroux in late August. It will be her longest tour to date.
"I love the immediacy and the opportunity to explore on stage," she says. "You can't capture that on a record."
To enter the "I Loved No-One" Twitter competition, click here.
For tour dates or to preview tracks from Slingshot or other albums by Rebecca Pidgeon, click here.