Music & Nightlife

Juliana Hatfield Three revisits debut album, looks forward

In the early ’90s – when alternative rock was beginning to bubble over into the mainstream – Boston pop-rock singer-songwriter Juliana Hatfield was the movement’s “it” girl.

Her band the Blake Babies’ cover of “Temptation Eyes” and her original song “Everybody Loves Me But You” (from her first solo album) were staples on MTV’s taste-making “120 Minutes” when she released 1993’s breakthrough “Become What You Are” with the Juliana Hatfield Three.

Boosted by the single “My Sister” and major-label backing, Hatfield’s cute-meets-acerbic delivery and the album’s smart guitar pop made it an alt-rock classic, but one the trio of Hatfield, bassist Dean Fisher and drummer Todd Phillips waited 22 years to repeat.

Although she’s released a catalog of solo albums, “Whatever, My Love” is the first Juliana Hatfield Three record in more than two decades. The band will play songs from that new record – along with “Become What You Are” in its entirety – Monday at Neighborhood Theatre.

“I feel like we made the other record a year ago,” says Hatfield, calling from Boston. “Twenty years can fly by. Todd went to LA. Dean got married and had kids. I was making solo records and side projects. Next thing you know, it’s 20 years later. I didn’t mean for that much time to go by.”

“Whatever, My Love” certainly doesn’t sound like much time has passed.

“The new one is a companion piece” to the earlier album, Hatfield says. “They’re both full of melodic pop-rock that’s sly and earnest, but kind of funny.”

With Phillips and Fisher, Hatfield – who went to high school with Fisher (who is married to her alt-rock peer Tanya Donelly of Belly/Throwing Muses) – says she feels comfortable giving up control.

“I write the songs, but I feel like I can relax a little when I bring the songs to Dean and Todd,” she says. “I can sit back and let those guys do what they do.”

But the similarities surrounding the albums end there. While “Become What You Are” was the product of a thriving record industry, “Whatever, My Love” was crowdfunded by fans via a PledgeMusic campaign.

At 47, the self-described socially awkward Hatfield sounds comfortable in her own skin embracing her quirks on new songs such as “Ordinary Guy” and “I’m Shy.”

“I have revelations all the time. That doesn’t mean I actually change my behavior,” she says of “Ordinary Guy,” in which she longs for a normal relationship. “That’s why that song is funny to me. I wrote it in the ’90s and it sounds like a revelation that I’m not going to do this anymore. But I kept on doing it.”

She’s accepted that she doesn’t need companionship or a busy social life.

“You can learn to manage your quirks,” says Hatfield, who released a memoir in 2008. “For me, that means isolating myself. Some people need love and partnership, but I don’t need emotional support. I get it from work and my creative activities.”

“I’m Shy,” for instance, isn’t a declaration that she’s gotten over it.

“I don’t have that natural ease with conversation with people. I feel like I’m acting. The revelation was, ‘You’re never getting over it. Stop putting yourself in uncomfortable social situations,’” she says with a laugh. “‘Go ahead and be the hermit you were born to be.’”

Courtney’s blog: cltsoundbites.blogspot.com

PREVIEW

Juliana Hatfield Three

WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday.

WHERE: Neighborhood Theatre, 511 E. 36th St.

TICKETS: $22-$25.

DETAILS: 704-942-7997; www.neighborhoodtheatre.com.

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