People have always loved Ginger Coyle's music. She's gotten radio airplay effortlessly, since her first original demo at age 14. She's been signed to two major labels, won national talent competitions and dominated industry showcases. A music biz veteran still in her mid-20s, she is at long last making the kind of music she wants to make. Conscious lyrics brimming with radio-friendly hooks and universal themes, Homeward Bound is her first collection of original songs. Ginger Coyle sings beautifully, and maybe that's the problem. She belongs to a lineage that stretches from Carole King through Fiona Apple, vocalists who borrow confidently from a soul music vocabulary while working mainstream pop territory. And Ginger is a gorgeous, post-millennial mashup of styles, combining the glamor of a 1940s movie star with a dash of vintage eclecticism and a passel of tattoos. She has all the raw material for a factory cranking out pop-music confections — except that she simply doesn't want to be that vessel.
It was, after all, Ginger's own song that got that got her spins a decade ago on WXPN as a teenager, and it was her own song that she sang on a video demo recorded in the family bathroom in Southampton, N.J., and submitted to (of all things) The Wayne Brady Show. When she got to L.A., they prepped her with a vocal coach and choreographer who told her how to work the audience and play to the cameras — and they told her to sing someone else's song. She killed on national TV, won the online voting, got a demo deal with Hollywood Records — and then walked away. "They were Hilary Duff's label," she explains. "They treated me like an obligation and didn't seem to care about my desires as an artist, so I moved on."
Her songwriting gifts were more appreciated in her next gig as lead singer of the dance-pop group "T!Katz". Signed to Universal-Motown. The band toured nationally with Third Eye Blind in 2007 and was featured on MTV, yet somehow broke up before making their first record. "That whole experience taught me what I didn't want to do," Ginger says now. "Those songs were all about partying and getting wasted, and I eventually grew out of them. The world was getting worse and worse, and felt the need to put some positive messages out there."
That basic idea led to her first song she wrote as a newly solo artist, "Moon And Back", a dark meditation on the emptiness of materialism that comes well disguised as a gorgeous ballad to a lover. "Homeward Bound", on the other hand, was written "at a moment when I was my happiest and most at peace. I felt like I had finally found myself, on every level, and that's what that song is about." Only later did she realize that she was pregnant with her daughter Georgia when that feeling came over her.
Other songs on Homeward Bound have moments of considerable modern-rock edge mixed with the intimate vibe of an indie singer-songwriter. For the new record, Ginger teamed with young producers Ross Bellenoit and Charlie Patierno, each with a track record of launching careers of female solo artists. Despite their strong presence, however, the album is very much driven by Ginger's vocals and piano hooks. It's undeniably her own songs and her own sound — finally.
"If I'm gonna make pop music," she says. "It's gonna be my kind of pop music."