Aimee Mann reaches back to a familiar sound

CorrespondentOctober 3, 2013 

aimee_mann

Aimee Mann plays the Haw River Ballroom October 9, 2013.

COURTESY OF SHERYL NIELDS

  • Details

    Who: Aimee Mann (Ted Leo opens)

    When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

    Where: Haw River Ballroom, 1711 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road, Saxapahaw.

    Cost: $25

    Info: 919-967-9053 or hawriverballroom.com

Aimee Mann has reached back to a familiar sound and it suits her. Her latest album, “Charmers,” her first disc in four years, is full of bouncy, loose, synthesizer-driven tunes with plenty of treble guitar.

“I was listening to a lot of great pop songs from a generation ago when I wrote these songs,” Mann says while calling from Los Angeles. “I was listening to the Cars and ABBA, which is what I have dubbed ‘super-pop.’ It’s not easy to pull off. You need a great band and I’ve got that and I’m having fun with these songs.”

Mann made a name for herself as the leader of the pop-rock band Til Tuesday during the ’80s but has been a solo artist for 20 years. She has been remarkably consistent throughout her career, but the new album is quite a contrast from “Bachelor No. 2,” a career-redefining project with clever, subtle pop-rock songs.

This latest batch of cuts is bigger and grander.

“It’s not easy for me,” Mann says. “It’s never been easy for me writing words.”

Mann, 53, who will perform Wednesday at the Haw River Ballroom, certainly makes it look easy – and has done so ever since her solo album “Whatever” dropped in 1993.

The lean, lanky songsmith is warm but admits she isn’t the most comfortable performer.

“I’ve never been charming,” Mann says. “I’ve always admire people who are charming. I’m talking about the people who can be funny, clever and make people feel good. I don’t know how they do that.”

A decade ago Mann and her husband, Michael Penn, toured with comic pal Patton Oswalt, who acted as the couple’s mouthpiece in between songs.

“I guess we all can’t do everything and that’s fine,” Mann says. “Patton is very good at choosing words in the moment. What he did with us for that tour worked very well. I’m a nervous singer-songwriter. Having Patton around was just what we needed.”

Mann has eight solo studio albums to choose from when compiling the set list for the upcoming show in Saxapahaw.

“That’s a good situation to be in,” Mann says. “I’ve survived. I haven’t done things in the conventional way but I’m still making music and touring.”

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