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Paula Cole: Optimism for the future

Paula Cole: Optimism for the future

As she approaches 50, the singer-songwriter is trying some new things.
Paula Cole: Optimism for the future
Paula Cole.
Photographer: Provided

"It is truly my time now, at 50."

That's from singer-songwriter Paula Cole, and the quote is prominent on her web site.

"It's optimism," said Cole, who will play The Egg in Albany's Empire State Plaza on Saturday.

"I feel like I'm finally getting to some items on my bucket list," she added. "The jazz album (the recently released "Ballads"), a rootsy jazz album but nonetheless a jazz album. And I feel I tolerate less bull, and that's wonderful. I care less of what people think of me and I'm glad for some of the decisions I've made.

"I certainly have regret archives," Cole also said. "But I'm glad to be here now at this age and I think things are looking up."

There have already been grand moments. Cole, who will turn 50 in April, won the Grammy award for 1998 best new artist. Her big-hit songs include "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" and "I Don't Want to Wait" - two songs fans can expect to hear when the singer makes her debut at The Egg.

Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.50.

"We'll be a trio," Cole said in a Wednesday morning telephone interview from her home in Beverly, Massachusetts. "I have an upright bass player, which is a little unique for me. Normally, I travel with my drummer, Jay Bellerose, who's been with me since I was 19. Jay was making an album in Nashville and recommended this bass player, Ross Gallagher.

"And then I have my guitar player, Chris Bruce, who's been part of the album-making and touring scene for decades," Cole added. "He's just a beautiful sound-smith and player."

Cole will be piano and vocals. There will be ballads, and a generous selection from her catalog. She'll also work some favorites into the set list.

"Recently, I've really loved covering the Bob Dylan songs that we have in the catalog," Cole said. "'The Ballad of Hollis Brown' and 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,' I've really been enjoying those."

She has also liked Nina Simone's "I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free" and, from her own song book, "Amen" and "Tiger."

Other artists love Cole's work. Her compositions have been covered by artists such as jazz legend Herbie Hancock, Annie Lennox and Katherine McPhee.

"I'm always intensely flattered and I'm touched, no matter who it is," Cole said. "In a case like Herbie Hancock, you pinch yourself. I'm just so humbled by that, he's a hero for me. And Annie Lennox was a huge influence for me in the beginning ... it was a woman's voice filled with sorrow and wisdom and I was attracted to that. To have her cover my song ("Hush, Hush, Hush") was pretty profound."

Cole has plenty of plans for the future, in and out of the recording studio. She believes she still has a handful of albums inside her, and she wants to write a book.

"I see myself kind of embracing homesteading, gardening more," she said. "I don't know how that will take shape. I'd love to spend more time in a Spanish-speaking country to really round out my fluency, I'm only conversational in Spanish. I think I'd really like to spend more time in Spain."

Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124, [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter.

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