Lisa Loeb Biography
The 11 tracks are split between full-tilt productions and solo acoustic performances that showcase Loeb’s finely tuned pop sensibilities. Loeb served as executive producer (she produced a number of the disc’s most compelling tracks as well), and was surrounded by an accomplished cast of supporting songwriters, musicians and technicians, including John Shanks (Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge) Stephanie Bentley (Faith Hill, Martina McBride), Shelley Peiken (Christina Aguilera, Brandy, Meredith Brooks), Billy Steinberg, (Madonna, Bangles, The Pretenders), Jimmy Harry (Moby, Kylie Minogue), and Bob Clearmountain (Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Roxy Music), who were anxious to team up with Loeb for the project.
The Way It Really Is opens with the catchy, off-beat spree "Window Shopping," which is followed by the retro-flavored "I Control The Sun," both clearly the work of a pop artist, while acoustic numbers such as "Hand-Me-Downs," "Would You Wander" and "Accident" highlight Loeb's earthy folk-rock roots. Loeb’s trademark lyrical insights are complemented by sparkling acoustic guitars on the first single “Fools Like Me.”
"As a collection of songs, I would say the title pretty much sums it up," Loeb explains of The Way It Really Is. "The record was made over a period of months, so I was able to listen to songs on the road and let things sink in a little bit. We also took less time to record each song, which was the key to getting natural-sounding performances and not making everything so perfect.”
For Loeb, recording The Way It Really Is prompted a combination of reflection and looking forward to what’s ahead. It was 10 years ago that the singer made music history by becoming the only unsigned artist to debut with a No. 1 hit (the aforementioned "Stay" from the seminal Gen X film Reality Bites). In the years since, Loeb has displayed a resolute creative zeal, using her musical career as a springboard into acting, voiceover work, a children's album and her own television series for Food Network.
Though the majority of The Way It Really Is was recorded prior to the end of a long relationship, Loeb now considers tracks like "I Control The Sun" and "Lucky Me" to be prophetic. As she sings on the single "Fools Like Me,” "It wasn't how I planned it / but my feet are where I landed."
"The key line in that song rings so true for me," Loeb says of "Fools Like Me." "You reach a place in your life where all of a sudden you realize you can’t be anywhere else except for where you are. Once you discover that, even in a relationship, then it's up to you to improve your situation or move on.
"It's interesting to see how some of the songs relate to the breakup," Loeb continues. "I tend to be a control freak, but in a relationship you need to accept people the way they are. 'I Control The Sun' is about trying to change someone and being frustrated that you can't. That's just one of the things I learned from this process. So in many ways I've learned some life lessons through these songs." "Fools Like Me" and "I Control The Sun" are indicative of the insightful song-craft to be found on The Way It Really Is. Loeb shines a bright light on modern life throughout the album, occasionally arriving at some unexpected revelations. Though many songwriters sing of the obvious joys of falling in love, in her song “Probably,” Loeb repeats the memorable refrain "I probably love you," in a voice filled with realism, both outgoing and hesitant, accurately capturing the bittersweet flavor of new relationships.
Loeb creates poetic and painful images on the more intimate acoustic tracks. The song "Try," reflects Loeb’s attitude that one can choose the positive over the negative. With its classic allusions to mountains and other obstacles, the song offers advice, as well as Loeb's reminder to herself that perspective is everything. On "Accident," she juxtaposes lyrics about a high-society calamity with gun-toting school children to create a jarring effect. "The song is about how people deal with tragedy,” Loeb comments. “We don't want to see it, but at the same time, we slow down to stare at it. Recently, I've noticed it even more, with all of the world turmoil reported on the news. What makes it even more disturbing, is that the serious issues are reported in the same breath as celebrity gossip, desensitizing us to what’s actually important."
Loeb has set her new lyrics to some of the finest melodies of her career including the folksy "Would You Wander," on which Indigo Girls vocalist Emily Saliers and singer-songwriter Maia Sharp contribute homespun harmonies that frame Loeb's sensitive vocals. "I Control the Sun" and "Probably" employ upbeat pop melodies and swinging Brit-rock rhythms, while “Diamonds” cuts an appropriately harder edge. The final track "Now I Understand" closes the album on an intimate, Beatlesque note.
Raised in Dallas, Texas, deeply immersed in the arts, Loeb studied piano and music theory and wrote her first original songs with lyrics while still in her early teens. She earned her degree in comparative literature from Brown University, where she experienced her first taste of musical success with the duo, Liz and Lisa. In the early ‘90s, Loeb moved to New York where she became a favorite on the Manhattan club circuit and surrounded herself with like-minded young musicians, actors and writers.
In 1993, Loeb's New York neighbor and pal Ethan Hawke recommended her to Reality Bites director Ben Stiller, who in turn included "Stay" on the hit film's soundtrack. Confirming Loeb's prodigious talents, the Platinum-selling "Stay" earned both a Grammy nomination and a “Best New Artist” Brit Award and resulted in a record deal with Geffen Records.
Making good on her successful debut single, Loeb followed with four acclaimed CDs, including her Gold-certified debut Tails (1995) and its follow-up, the Grammy-nominated, Gold-certified Firecracker (1997). In 2002, Loeb ushered in the new millennium with a pair of CDs, Cake And Pie and Hello Lisa. Recently, Loeb reunited with her college music partner, Elizabeth Mitchell on the children’s CD and companion book Catch The Moon, released May 25.
Loeb’s television credits include her own series for Food Network Dweezil and Lisa, a weekly culinary adventure that debuted in January 2004 and showcased the pair's passion for food, cooking and music. Other TV appearances include The Chris Isaak Show, and The Drew Carey Show. Loeb starred in her first feature film role, opposite Oscar-winning actor Geoffrey Rush in the movie House On Haunted Hill in 1999. In 2003 Loeb gave voice to Spiderman’s gal pal Mary Jane in MTV’s animated series Spider-Man.
Now, on the 10-year anniversary of her worldwide breakthrough, Lisa Loeb serves up a recording sculpted from recent events and her own experiences. The Way It Really Is offers listeners a deeply personal musical journey.
"With this record, I felt that it was very important to capture the immediacy of a live performance,” Loeb says. "Whether I'm playing live or making a record, it really comes down to capturing the emotion in each song, to tell a story and try to express myself in a way that is more direct. These songs are about looking at life the way it really is.”