It’s highly doubtful when Edie Brickell encountered Steve Martin more than two decades ago she ever thought about making an album with him, especially something as somber and sublime as the duo’s new bluegrass-informed folk release “Love Has Come for You,” which features her singing over his superb, emotive banjo playing.
When they met in 1990, Brickell had just shot to fame with her critically acclaimed debut album “Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars,” featuring the alternative rock smash “What I Am.” Martin ranked as perhaps Hollywood’s most bankable comedic actor thanks to his recent blockbusters “Roxanne,” “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.” On the surface, at least, Brickell and Martin didn’t seem to have much in common.
A couple years later, though, Brickell married Martin’s good friend Paul Simon.
“We would end up at dinner parties and they had place cards and I was always seated next to Steve,” Brickell said during a phone interview. “I just loved to listen to him talk and be in his company.”
During the next two decades, Brickell continued to make music but spent most of her time raising her three children with Simon.
Martin, meanwhile, had evolved from superstar standup comedian (“A Wild and Crazy Guy”) to revered actor/screenwriter (“L.A. Story”) to lauded author (“Born Standing Up”). Then, just when it seemed there was nothing Martin couldn’t excel at, he released the 2009 album “The Crow: New Songs for the Five-String Banjo,” which won a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.
Brickell saw Martin at a birthday party and told him how much she liked the album’s opening track “Daddy Played The banjo.” He asked her if she ever thought about singing without drums.
“I love to sing to anything,” Brickell recalled telling Martin.
“I have a tune with no song, no words,” she remembered him replying. The next week
Martin came by the house and they wrote “Sun’s Gonna Shine,” one of the many highlights on their new album “Love Has Come for You.” A collection of 13 songs, each one features a Martin melody married to Brickell’s lyrics. He leads the band and plays banjo while she delivers rich, emotive, occasionally playful vocals.
“I was a little shy to sing in front of him,” Brickell said. “He would ask, ‘What are you singing? What are you singing?’”
Brickell solved the problem by taking Martin’s instrumentals recordings and singing over them and emailing them back to him.
She’s now touring as part of the Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell. The act already sold its Thursday show at the 2,000-plus seat Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Despite knowing him since 1990, attending various social gatherings together and co-writing and recording an album together, Brickell is still a little starstruck by Martin.
“He is that comedic icon and Renaissance man and I admire him as much as anyone living,” Brickell said. “He’s up there and I am in awe of him. I stand back and think how I could be so lucky. He’s a wonderful gentleman. It’s outrageous how he walks through a room and treats everyone in such a friendly manner. It’s so admirable and so rare and he’s so funny! I stand on stage and I’m having the best time of my life.”