Leah Andreone stares up at a glamorous Spin magazine cover photo of RCA label mate Natalie Imbruglia hanging on a wall in the company’s Times Square offices and just shakes her head.
That level of platinum-plated fame makes the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter shudder.
“That is scary,” Andreone said recently. “I don’t know too much about her career and what’s going on with her. She’s still very new, but some artists that I can think back to, where I can see the history, you can see what overselling did to them. I just want to ensure five, six, seven more records. I don’t want to sell huge on one record and then have only one more record. I want a career.
“I love looking at PJ Harvey; she doesn’t sell trillions, but she has a career and she always has a venue where she can sing at and she’ll sell it out. That’s what I want.”
If her second album, “Alchemy” (out Sept. 29), is any indication, Andreone is well on her way. It is noticeably more confident, eclectic and upbeat than her 1996 debut, “Veiled.” There’s a reason for that, she said.
“Veiled,” featuring the modern rock track hit, “It’s Alright, It’s OK,” was more naive and written purely out of emotional needs, Andreone said.
“I think the album healed me,” she said. “I was a walking wounded human. There were a lot of happy elements of my life, but they seem to get overlooked when there’s something very drastic and tragic that happens to people. Somehow you just can’t get past it. On my first record, I dealt with how I was abused as a child.
“I performed night after night, and I was on the road for a long time, and I healed. My reality was brought right to me. I actually wrote a song about it and talked about it and I’m singing about it every single night, thinking ‘Okay, it’s part of my life.’ It’s totally who I am, it’s made me who I am, it’s responsible for some very positive characteristics in my personality and some negative ones also.
“Everyone has a tragedy they go through and mine is no worse than yours. It became part of my everyday life, it’s not this huge thing that sticks out anymore. That invigorated me and motivated me to make a record to explain another side of me, which I’ve come to appreciate. I’ve come to appreciate the beauty in sex also, rather than the ugliness.”
On “Alchemy,” Andreone explores sensuality on the Beatles-ish “Swallow Me,” the torch song “Try to Take Your Time” and the “I’ve got a crush on you but you don’t know it” track “Inconceivable” (co-written by Hooters Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian).
“I went into this album with a definite plan,” Andreone said. “I knew what I wanted to happen, I knew I wanted to work with a very specific producer (Bob Marlette) and I also wanted to produce. I have a confidence that I was lacking on the first record, and the confidence is in voicing my opinion.
“On the first record, I wrote a bunch of music and said, ‘Okay, there, go for it.’ When you’re in a room with five, six people who have been in the business 15 years and this is your first record, it takes a lot of guts to say, ‘You know what? You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ Obviously, they had more wisdom than I, but what I didn’t realize at the time was they had more wisdom about many things but I had more wisdom about myself. On the second record, I definitely incorporated what I like to listen to, what I like to hear, what I will enjoy performing onstage night after night.”
Relentless touring for “Veiled,” more than anything, strengthened her mettle.
“The first album took on a whole new life on the road,” Andreone said. “It was a lot heavier; my guitarist plays with Marilyn Manson, my drummer is a heavy drummer. It was a different show, and noticeably so, not only to musicians but also to the audience. I had a rap in the middle of ‘It’s Alright, It’s OK.’ The audience was questioning, ‘Why didn’t you do this on the record?’ I couldn’t stand up and say, ‘This is what I want to do.’ This time around, I would like count to five … one, two, three, four, five … ‘Okay, this is what I want.’ ”
She’s genuinely appreciative that RCA trusted her judgment.
“They’ve always given me the benefit of a doubt,” she said. “I can’t be one of those artists who hates their label. They are the hugest supporters and never get involved in things they shouldn’t. They’re very respectful, and I respect them back.”
BWF (before we forget): For more on Leah Andreone on the Web, visit www.leahandreone.com.