Minnie Driver

Minnie Driver Biography

The delete bins of history are littered with the recording attempts of actors who fancy themselves as singers. In the case of Minnie Driver, an acclaimed and award-winning English actress best known for her roles in movies like Grosse Pointe Blank and Good Will Hunting, singing actually came first. Had it not been for the runaway success of Circle of Friends, in which she starred opposite Chris O'Donnell, Driver’s career might have taken a much different turn. She began singing in London’s jazz clubs as a teenager, before joining a band that landed a development deal with Island Records. Recalls Driver: “When things with Island dissolved, I began talking with EMI about a solo deal. But just then Circle of Friends came along and changed everything.”

With Everything I’ve Got in My Pocket (Zoë/Rounder), Driver has finally made the album she’s been dreaming of since her teenage years. With 10 original songs and an unforgettable cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart,” Driver’s debut bears the mark of an accomplished singer-songwriter. Strongly autobiographical songs like the folky “Invisible Girl” and the country-tinged “Fast As You Can” bear resemblances to Neil Young and Cowboy Junkies respectively, while there are hints of Sarah McLachlan and Gillian Welch on such tracks as the more pop-oriented “Wire” and the gorgeous ballad “Home,” about having faith in the power of love to guide one through life. In fact, much of the album deals with being on both the winning and losing side of love. “Some pretty major changes happened in my life,” explains Driver. “I started writing as a way to understand what was going on.”

Produced by Marc ‘Doc’ Dauer (Pete Yorn), Everything I’ve Got in My Pocket also features several dreamy, hypnotic numbers, including the hopeful, reassuring title track. “Deeper Water,” with its lyrical ebb and flow and rhythmic push and pull, offers a well constructed metaphor for love’s strong tide. “It’s a thinly veiled analogy to having the courage to fall in love with someone after being really devastated,” admits Driver. “It’s about the sweetness of that moment when you’re ready to dive back into something, and how surprising you find it that you can ever love again.” Meanwhile, “So Well,” with its mellifluous chorus, deals with the act of letting go of love—or at least trying to. “I will put your pictures in a wooden box, find a heart next time with fewer locks,” sings Driver. “I can let you go,” she adds, trying to convince herself, “but not your memory yet.”

Driver credits Dauer, who she met through Yorn, with pushing her to commit her songs to tape. “Doc was really persistent,” she recalls. “He kept saying, ‘when are you going to come over to my house and play me some of your songs?’ Every time I’d see him, he’d go, ‘I’m waiting.’ He’s been incredibly supportive.” Dauer, who plays guitar on most tracks, brought in some exceptional musicians to join Driver, including Rami Jaffee, keyboardist with The Wallflowers, pedal steel player Ben Peeler (The Mavericks), bassist Sheldon Gomberg (Warren Zevon) and guitarist Jeff Trott (Sheryl Crow). The result is a moody folk-pop album with stirring country overtones and shades of more trippy, groove-based sounds.

One of the album’s most memorable tracks is “Hungry Heart,” which Driver dramatically recasts as a slow, melancholic piano ballad. “Growing up, Springsteen’s The River was one of my all-time favorite records,” says Driver. “I was blown away by how Springsteen could seduce you with the accessible nature of his music and then take you even deeper with his lyrics.” Driver’s stark version underscores the poignancy that lies at the core of the song.

Driver first played the songs live at Hollywood’s Hotel Café, before showcasing them more formally at this year’s Sundance and South by Southwest festivals. Performing her own songs, as opposed to the jazz standards she’d previously sung, proved strangely satisfying. “There is a lot to be said for standing up in front of a crowd of people and knowing exactly how to sing something, because it originated in you; oddly, it gave me a lot more confidence.”

With so few actors having successfully multi-tasked into music, Driver knows all too well the challenge she faces. “The bar is set pretty low—I’m fully aware of that,” she says. “There aren’t too many actors who’ve made good records.” But Driver is steadfast in her determination to break the mold. “I’m doing this because it’s something that I always intended to do,” she says. “This record began in the back yards and on the front porches of my friends houses, it was always just a creative endeavor that found it’s way to fruition through the relentless support of a few key people.” She adds: “They are songs that reflect the truest version of myself. Hopefully, people will connect with that.”

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