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16 décembre 2007

After hiatus, gentler, jazzier Cole ready for Park City state

Forget all the cowboys. Where had Paula Cole gone? Because fans, after all, didn't want to wait for their lives to be over.

Cole, who was catapulted to stardom by her two 1990s hit singles "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" and "I Don't Want to Wait," performs in Park City Saturday as part of her return to show business after an eight-year retreat. "Eight years in the pop world is like death," said a talkative, open Cole from her New York City home while tending to her 6-year-old daughter. "But I needed a break from entertainment. I was tired of talking about me all the time. My quiet inner voice was telling me that I wasn't happy."

In 1999, Cole had been touring nonstop for years, first with Peter Gabriel as part of his "Secret World Live Tour," then supporting the album for which she won a Grammy for Best New Artist, and finally as one of the linchpins of the Lilith Fair. Wanting to get off the "hamster wheel," she secluded herself in New York, got married and raised a daughter. Cole resisted the itch to write and perform for a long time, she said. But soon it grew too strong. "I was kind of scared, but in a way, I longed for it," she said. "I was missing it. I got a little depressed. I needed that artistic expression."

This summer, she released her first solo studio album since 1999, "Courage." It is a more subdued, jazz-infused turn for the professionally voice-trained Cole, who in the late 1990s was lumped - largely incorrectly - with the alternative singer-songwriter movement that included Sarah McLachlan and Shawn Colvin. "It's a gentle album, more mature," said Cole, who then brought up that she is going through a divorce. "I was going through so much [stuff], but I'm not bitter."

Because Cole now calls herself a single mom, she doesn't want to go on tour for six months at a time. For her Park City concert, she is arranging a babysitter for her daughter, and is flying to Utah just for the weekend. (It helps that she doesn't ski.) Before Cole's self-imposed break, she was known for her painfully honest and unbridled shows, and says she can still pull it off with her 39-year-old body. "When I step out onstage, the adrenaline subsides," she said. "I feel more comfortable to talk. I feel like I'm really in the moment."

By David Burger / The Salt Lake Tribune

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