It’s been more than a decade since bassist-to-the-stars Tal Wilkenfeld released her initial solo album. And the Australian-born artist is confident the upcoming Love Remains, whose track “Killing Me” is premiering exclusively below, shows how much she’s learned during that interim.
“I suppose that when you play so many different kinds of music with so many quality musicians it does make you versatile, but that can sometimes work against you because you can go so many different directions — and they’re all pleasing,” Wilkenfeld, who racked up credits with Jeff Beck, Herbie Hancock, Jackson Browne, Prince, Mick Jagger, Todd Rundgren and many more, tells Billboard. “I had to really focus on what I wanted to say and what sounds felt most like home to me. That always changes and develops as the years go by, of course, so this is what feels like home to me as well.”
What may come as a surprise to some is that Love Remains, due out March 15 and executive produced by Browne, is less about the bass virtuosity that’s been Wilkenfeld’s calling card. Instead, it documents her facility as a songwriter and a rich, expressive singer whose voice brings a fluid kind of cohesion to the album’s 10 tracks.
“It’s almost the opposite of a bass album in some ways,” acknowledges Wilkenfeld, who co-produced with Love Remains with Paul Stacey. “A lot of the songs don’t even have bass on them. On the first track, ‘Corner Painter,’ I played bass on the organ but it didn’t feel right to put electric bass on it. And there’s another song, ‘One Thing After Another,’ that’s just me and acoustic guitar — we ended up putting woodwinds on it, but no bass. So it’s a big leap for me, but that’s what felt most authentic for these songs. I had to come at the album not as a bass player or even a musician, really, but more as a songwriter and an artist.”
“Killing Me,” meanwhile, is one of the album’s most straightforward pieces, a moody, halting rock track featuring Blake Mills on guitar and plenty of space for Wilkenfeld’s bass. “Musically it’s one of my favorite songs to play, especially live ’cause the drum beat’s so cool,” Wilkenfeld says. “I get to kind of improvise on the bass and yet still adhere to the song. So some of the songs I can stretch more on my instrument and other songs I’m kind of sticking to a part.”
Wilkenfeld, who opened for The Who during its 2017 North American tour, will preview Love Remains with shows at the Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles during February at New York’s Mercury Lounge in early March, and she’s hoping to hit the road with her band this year as well. Meanwhile, she adds, it shouldn’t be another long wait for her next release. “I’m writing a lot now,” Wilkenfeld says. “Now that this album’s under my belt, instead of just thinking about the next album I’m thinking about the next five albums. It’s pretty funny the way it works.”
Tal Wilkenfeld Tour Dates
Wed, Feb 20 – Los Angeles, CA – Moroccan Lounge
Mon, Mar 4 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
Tues, Mar 5 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge – SOLD OUT