By the time they finished, Foster had been replaced at Verve by Danny Bennett, Tony Bennett’s son. Branch turned over her album and prepared for the worst. “He listened to it,” says Branch of Bennett, “called me and said, ‘I love this album. Don’t change a thing.’ ”
Branch has had to adjust to promoting an album in 2017 -- “I don’t know how to work Snapchat,” she admits rather sorrowfully. “Most of my emails I get are like, ‘Don’t forget the Facebook update. Don’t forget to Instagram this. When I first got asked to do an Instagram story, I was like, ‘Is this thing on?’” Yet she’s ready for a robust tour in support of Hopeless Romantic that will include Carney as her touring drummer and live renditions of every early hit, including the one she doesn’t know how to play just yet. “The song that will be the most tricky is the Santana song,” she says of “The Game of Love,” her 2002 collaboration with the guitar legend that reached No. 5 on the Hot 100. “I wasn’t a writer on it. I told Pat, ‘I don’t know if we should play that song,’ and he goes, ‘Oh no, that song is my favorite one! I think it’ll be cool!’”
Branch never wrote or recorded music with her ex-husband, who was a bass player in her band; looking back, she views that lack of collaboration as a red flag. Now, she often wakes up and brings mugs of coffee to the Nashville home studio she shares with Carney, who will be already hard at work on new ideas. They swap instruments and play solos that could work for the Black Keys, Branch’s next album or some entirely new musical project. Carney tries to get Branch to change the bridge of “Are You Happy Now?” for the upcoming tour -- something she refuses, because the lyrics wouldn’t make sense without it. Branch encourages Carney to sing more in general -- something he, in turn, refuses, because his sixth grade music teacher once made fun of his voice.
“There’s such a safety being in a romantic relationship with someone who I work with creatively,” says Branch. “You don’t edit yourself. Patrick knows what I like, and I know what he’s into. There’s no bullshit.”