“This would have come a lot sooner, but I had a baby, and I wanted to focus on being a mum for awhile,” Minnie Driver says of Ask Me to Dance, her third Rounder/Zöe album, and her first new release scheduled to come out on 10/7.
In a musical career that’s run concurrently with her endeavors as one of her generation’s most acclaimed and in-demand actresses, Minnie Driver has consistently demonstrated an organic, distinctive set of talents that have been honed through a lifetime of music-making.
Ask Me to Dance marks another notable landmark in Driver’s creative evolution. Where her first two albums, 2004′s Everything I’ve Got In My Pocket and 2007′s Seastories, focused on her own vivid songwriting, Ask Me to Dance finds the artist interpreting a selection of compositions by some of her favorite songwriters, demonstrating the breadth of her musical interests while showcasing her substantial interpretive skills.
Driver lends her warmly expressive voice to an impressively diverse set of songs, underlining her talent as a song stylist as well as her deeply personal engagement with the material. She submerges herself in the bittersweet vibe of “Waltz #2″ by Elliott Smith, whom Driver befriended when both were in the early stages of their respective careers, and brings a jazzy lilt to The Cure’s “Close To Me.” While her readings of Neil Young’s “Tell Me Why,” John Prine’s “Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness,” and Neil Finn’s “Better Be Home Soon” cut straight to the emotional heart of those songs, she reinvents the Killers’ “Human” as an affecting country ballad, reworks the swinging Sinatra standard “Fly Me To The Moon” as a stark, moody ballad, and recasts Stevie Wonder’s “Master Blaster” as a pensive, introspective mood piece.
“This is something that I’ve always wanted to do,” Driver says of the covers project. “Every single song on it has enormous resonance for me, for one reason or another. It’s called Ask Me to Dance because a lot of it is my entire teenage experience of standing at the side of a dark dance hall, just willing someone to ask me to dance. Some of these songs are the ones that helped me through being a teenager.
“But it wasn’t just about going back to the past,” she continues. “The point was to choose songs that I felt a real connection to, and then metabolizing the song and seeing how I could bring something new to it. It was much harder than I thought it would be, and it was quite a challenge to try to turn these songs into something new, and to find myself in them in a way that would also be meaningful to other people.”