Michelle Branch staying in country

Finishing work on third solo album

DETROIT -- On her next solo album, Michelle Branch plans to stay on the country path she began with the Wreckers.

The singer-songwriter said that she's "in that last stage of tweaking stuff ... where you can really go crazy trying to fix all the little things" for her third solo album, "Everything Comes and Goes," which she hopes to get out before the end of the year on Warner Nashville.

Branch said the album, her first solo set since 2003's "Hotel Paper," sounds like "a really natural progression from the Wreckers. It was produced by John Leventhal and John Shanks, who both worked on the Wreckers' 2007 debut "Stand Still, Look Pretty."

"I think the Wreckers for me was just so much fun and I felt so at home with it that I really feel that's my place now," Branch said. "It's more singer-songwriter than, I would say, country, but I think the term 'country' is all relative now. There's really no room for singer-songwriters anymore at radio, so I think this is a natural step. It really feels like the right place to be."

Dwight Yoakam duets with Branch on a track called "Long Goodbye," while other players on the album include Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Larry Campbell and pedal steel and fiddle and Bob Dylan's longtime bassist Tony Garnier. Co-writer Hilary Lindsey also sings harmonies. Song titles include "Texas in the Mirror," "This Way" and "Crazy Ride," the latter a "kind of terrifying lullabye" for her 2-year-old daughter, Owen Isabelle.

Branch said "Everything Comes and Goes" is also "kind of a breakup album," referring to both the Wreckers' current hiatus and a management switch. Branch's first choice would have been to record a second Wreckers album, but partner Jessica Harp wanted to get her own solo career back on track.

"Jessica had never had a chance to do her solo record, so I understand where she's coming from," Branch said. "I'd been there and saw that it was kind of overrated; it's much more fun to play in a band with your friends. But she's really just wanting to stand on her own two feet and prove herself on her own and not be that other chick in the Wreckers with Michelle. That wasn't going to get any better if we kept making records and sweeping it under the rug.

"It was sad, but we're both in a great place now, both making solo records," she continued. "It was kind of left open, like maybe we'll come back to it, so we'll see."

Branch will perform songs from "Everything Comes and Goes" during shows this summer, starting Saturday at the GM River Days festival in Detroit.