Lisa Loeb is overcoming her success

March 26, 1998|By Tamara Ikenberg | Tamara Ikenberg,SUN STAFF

Singer, songwriter and musician Lisa Loeb had her first hit single before she even recorded her first album.

"It was a mixed blessing," says Loeb, who has just released her second album, "Firecracker." The hit single in question, "Stay," first released on the soundtrack for 1994's "Reality Bites," propelled Loeb into the spotlight. "I had written it without entertainment-industry interference. It was done in a pure way."

But with the single's success came tour dates and a slew of marketing responsibilities that did not allow Loeb time to get to work on her first album for nearly a year.

In 1995, she released "Tails," which included "Stay" and other songs that stretched Loeb's image beyond that of the "Reality Bites" girl. And now, "Firecracker's" literate and loosely structured hybrids of folk and pop, delivered in her patented power-waif style, add even more dimension to her musical catalog.

"Tails" and "Firecracker" gave Loeb the opportunity to stay true to and expand on the acoustic guitar and singer-songwriting styles she embraced as part of the musical community she belonged to at Brown University. The albums also assisted Loeb in overcoming some negative feedback regarding the impact of "Stay" on the pop music scene.

"People associated me completely with that song," Loeb says. "I had to deal with that image and having indie [independent-label] friends looking at me and going, 'You're selling out.' "

Loeb says the video accompanying "Stay" may have contributed to the criticism. Conceived and directed by Ethan Hawke, "Reality Bites" star and Loeb's next-door neighbor at the time, the video for "Stay" showed Loeb manically pacing through a building, waving her hands around and looking generally distressed over an impending breakup.

She liked Hawke's concept but was concerned that she was never shown playing an instrument, and may have struck some viewers as a manipulated pop image.

Through extensive touring, she's cracked that potential stereotype. Thousands of people saw her perform at Sarah McLachlan's groundbreaking Lilith Fair last summer.

Lilith gave Loeb the chance to forge relationships with her female contemporaries. "Falling in Love," from "Firecracker," features Grammy winner Shawn Colvin singing backup, and Loeb is touring with McLachlan, whom she admires for creating the Lilith Fair.

"Our music is played more, which is exciting," Loeb says. "You can put more than one woman on a bill. You can play more than one woman on the radio."

And you can be known for more than one hit single, as Loeb has discovered.

Lisa Loeb, with Sarah McLachlan

When: Saturday, 8 p.m.

Where: Towson Center

Tickets: Sold Out

Sundial: To hear excerpts from the album "Firecracker," call Sundial at 410-783-1800. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in 6118 after the greeting.

Pub Date: 3/26/98

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