10496 – It is a pretty good CD!!

Springsteen’s wife records new album
NEW YORK (AP) – While writing songs for her new album, Patti Scialfa was inspired by a wide range of women: Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, doomed poet Sylvia Plath, renowned author Joan Didion, and, shifting gears, drag racer Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney.
Ladies and gentlemen, start your iPods.
“I didn’t realize I’d done that, believe me!” the singer-songwriter says, laughing about the seemingly mismatched group. “I just like strong women. No matter how old you are, you still need your role models.
“That’s why churches were built with high ceilings, you know? To look up.”
For “Play It As It Lays,” her third solo record, the 53-year-old Scialfa raised her personal bar for success. She decided to write about relationships, with her lyrics matched to the R&B sounds of classic Aretha and Al Green.
“I did want to expand myself musically, lyrically and emotionally,” Scialfa says between sips of Earl Grey tea. “I wanted to push myself. I like to hide. . . . I had to come up a little tougher.”
The effervescent Scialfa wears a black jacket and pants, her red hair falling past her shoulders and a white ruffled shirt. Sitting in a Manhattan hotel suite, she’s excited and expansive about the album.
“This record for me is exploring the complexities of long-term relationships,” she says. “Real relationships. A partner, people who’ve been together for a long time. At this point in my life, that’s very fascinating to me.”
Not just romantic relationships – one track, “The Word,” was initially written after her father’s death. And, as she observes on “Like Any Woman Would,” Scialfa’s been a mother, sister, friend and confidant, as well as a spouse.
Her husband of 16 years is Bruce Springsteen; now the mother of three, she joined his band in 1984, and became his wife seven years later.
But Scialfa said she wasn’t worried about people reading her lyrics as a referendum on their marriage.
“No, that’s OK,” she said. “First of all, when you’re writing, you’re pulling from many, many different areas. I like to start out with something – a seed of some sort of feeling that I know deeply about, or else I feel that I don’t write the song well.
“But once it gets going, you can pull anything into it.”
While Scialfa’s music reflected her love of great R&B, her lyrics were influenced in part by Plath (on “Like Any Woman Would”), Didion (on title track “Play It As It Lays”) and Muldowney (on “Run Run Run”).
Helping along the way was a great band assembled for the album, featuring guitarist Nils Lofgren, drummer Steve Jordan, bassist Willie Weeks, keyboardist Cliff Carter and utility player Springsteen (harmonica, guitars, B3 organ).
The improbable group improbably dubbed itself “the Whack Brothers.”
“They had a lot of fun playing with each other – the jokes and the fooling around all the time,” she explains.
Lofgren, a fellow member of Springsteen’s E Street Band, praised Scialfa’s effort on his website. “Her new album is really amazing,” Lofgren wrote, “and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Scialfa, who grew up in Asbury Park, N.J., emerged from the same Jersey shore music scene that spawned her husband, Little Steven Van Zandt and Southside Johnny Lyon. She wound up as a backing vocalist for the Rolling Stones, Buster Poindexter and Southside’s Asbury Jukes.
Her first solo record, “Rumble Doll,” was released in 1994 – and then came children, and band tours, and 10 years elapsed until her autobiographical “23rd Street Lullaby.” Three years later comes “Play It As It Lays,” which Scialfa deliberately limited to 10 songs.
“I thought, ‘Clear, about one thing – it’ll be like reading a short story,’ ” she says. “And that’s how I wanted it to go down, like a short story. Trim the fat. . . . I don’t like the excess.”
There will be a tour of some sort, most likely in early 2008, for Scialfa to perform her own music. It might be during a break from her other musical gig with Springsteen’s E Street Band, which has a new album out Oct. 2 and a tour.
“Really, just selfishly, I have to do something for myself,” she says. “You don’t want to be resentful, when things come up in your life and you can’t do the things that are important to you. My kids are a little older now. So I can go out – even if it’s only for a month – just to get out there.”