“You can’t get what you want until you know what you want,” is what a wise friend of mine told me this week. Though I’ve heard that line before, somehow it struck me in a deeper way this time. I often jump at the very first opportunity and don’t give myself the time to think whether it’s the right thing for me to do or not. (I have many examples of this….) I guess it’s an attitude that comes from not feeling secure that there’ll be many opportunities to choose from, and the one at hand is merely one such possibility.

I have such respect and admiration for artists, who have followed their own path and kept their names clean. Some of my favorites: Bjork, Patti Smith, Thom Yorke, PJ Harvey, Tom Waits… It seems to me that there was a vision from the beginning, and by refusing to do things that don’t follow that vision, the actual art has come into focus. I’m not saying that they haven’t had missteps–I’m sure they have–it’s just that in the bigger scheme of things, we know what these artists are about. What am I about? In some ways I feel like within the last few years, and with my new album, I’m figuring that out for myself for the first time.

My path and my career used to be envisioned by someone else, instead of me. That is why, in hindsight, some of it may look confusing from the outside. Even from the inside, actually. “How does she go from smooth and jazzy bossanova to alternative Jeff Buckley-type vocalizing?” Had there been a natural growth curve, maybe it would make more sense. To be honest, I’m still tying all the loose ends, although I’m sure my new music will bring the clarity I (and possibly others) may seek.

My new music is tightly bound to the person that I am now, and have been for these recent years. My musical upbringing in soul and R&B will show in my songwriting, vocalizing and harmonies, and my edgier, alternative interests will be obvious in my lyrics and overall feel of the production. I think it’s a unique combination…such as we all are. It just takes some courage to express it.

Even though my path has taken some surprising turns musically and artistically, I look forward to focusing it all, now and in the future. That doesn’t mean I won’t get excited about a new musical style and be noticeably influenced by it in the time ahead… That may very well happen. Indeed, what I wish for the most is that I will always continue to grow and to learn; to be interested and interesting. The difference is, now it is in my hands what I say yes to, and what I say no to, instead of someone else’s. That’s a real responsibility. If I want to be anything like those people I look up to, I better know what I want.