The last time we talked to Sixpence None the Richer in late 2008, they had just released a promising EP, My Dear Machine, and were gearing up for their first Christmas album, The Dawn of Grace. They—Leigh Nash and Matt Slocum—were making the most of their reunion after about four years apart, in which they both pursued solo projects and focused on family matters. But in late '08, they were very much excited about being Sixpence again, writing songs together again, and putting together a new album.

Matt Slocum and Leigh Nash

Matt Slocum and Leigh Nash

That conversation ended with Nash answering a question about the ETA on that new project. She replied, "I would say next summer at the earliest. We'll see."

Well, the summer of 2009 came and went—and no new Sixpence album. So did the fall, and the winter, and all of 2010, all of 2011, and more than half of 2012. But now, at last, after more glitches and holdups with a record label, the new Sixpence album, Lost in Transition, is finally available. And it's a dandy. (Lost in Transition.)

We caught up with Nash recently to talk about the holdups (and frustrations) as the project faced delay after delay, going indie, songwriting with Slocum and with her husband, and why she thinks this is the best Sixpence album ever.

It is good to hear a new Sixpence album. It's been too long!

I know, it really has been. It's ridiculous. But I'm excited.

In 2008, you and Matt did an EP and a Christmas record, and said that your new album was coming out in 2009. What happened to cause more than a 3-year delay?

It was really the same old story that we've unfortunately talked about so many times before. We got ourselves into a record label situation that was one thing when it started and then turned into something else by the time we got the record done. It's not what we set out to have happen, but we're hoping that we're in a better place now.

Can you elaborate on that a bit?

We signed with EMI and we had a record that we were extremely proud of. But by the time we finished, they were not the same company anymore. There's been so many things internally happening with all these labels; the things they thought they would have in place to put the record out and support it just no longer existed. So that changed things. They suddenly just weren't equipped to deal with us, and that wasn't going to work for either party. It took us awhile to extricate ourselves from that deal. It really never got ugly between EMI and Sixpence; we definitely remain on good terms. We were able to walk away with our record and able to put it out. So we're really thankful.

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Many artists are ditching labels anyway and going independent. And now here you are, with an indie release.

Yes. And it's funny because in the very beginning, back in the early '90s, that's what Matt wanted. But it didn't ever happen that way because we always had labels talking to us, which was great. But now in 2012, we're finally doing the independent thing. So we've kind of come full circle.

With all your record label woes, there must have been times over the years where you and Matt were pretty upset. How has your faith sustained you?

It's kept me going. But I've learned to protect myself on some level by sort of not caring about new records anymore, even though deep down it means the world to you. It's hard when it's something you put that much blood, sweat, and tears into. But if I gave myself to that passion to get records out, I would be really tortured. So I just sort of let go. And I have plenty to distract myself with, with my son and living life. I'm not a millionaire by any means or even a thousandaire. So I've got plenty of stuff to concern myself with.

But it has been heartbreaking to the point where you want to pull your hair out or just cry, which I've done plenty of. It's frustrating, but we're still erect. And now we want to focus on the new record. It is coming out finally, and we love it.

Was there ever a time where you thought, The heck with it. I'm done. We're done.

There have been plenty of those days, for sure. But one thing that was really invigorating for us was playing a few shows in London and Turkey a few months ago. It was really great timing; something about it just made us feel alive as a band again.

When Sixpence called it quits in 2004, you said it wasn't long before you thought about getting back together. You've made a few solo albums since then, but is there any way to scratch the Sixpence itch unless you're making music with Matt?

There's no way. There's so much that I want to do as a solo artist, including make a country record. And I've really grown as a songwriter. But none of it would ever take the place of being able to make new songs come to life with Matt. I'm just such a great fan of him as a songwriter and a guitarist and as a human. We both feel that way. I want to hear his work come to life, and he loves hearing my voice comes to life. So it's a great partnership, and I hope we can do it till we can't do it anymore.

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Your name is all over this new record in the writing credits, and that's not necessarily true of previous Sixpence records. Is it more of a collaborative effort these days with you and Matt?

It is, yeah. When we got back together we wanted it to be more that way. But Matt tends to be more prolific, and my husband Stephen, who I wrote a lot of the songs with, is the same way. But for me, songwriting is a lot like pulling teeth. I'm a real stubborn songwriter; it doesn't come as naturally for me.

Are you writing lyrics, the melody, or both?

Both. It just depends on the time of day. I'm a real fickle kind of weirdo in that way. When I'm on my game, I feel like I can really be a strong lyricist, but when I'm not, I think I'm really good with melody.

The new album is titled Lost in Transition. We've talked about transitions regarding record labels. And in the last 10 years, you've had a son, been divorced, remarried, and lost your father. That's a lot of transition! But let's focus on the word lost in the title. What's been lost in all of this?

Well, time, for one thing. We found ourselves lost in what we were talking about before. Asking questions like, "I'm just wondering if this isn't it what is?" and "What am I supposed to be doing?" I've gotten myself in some interesting places in my faith where I've been on quite a journey, and I'm still on it. We all are. But I kind of came to conclusion about six months ago that God was really trying to make me see that he has been pursuing me not just as a singer but as me, the person before I ever sang. And that was a real revelation to me, sadly. I mean, I must have known that on some level, but it really hit me that the person that God made … I don't even know how to say it beyond that. But it was a real emotional revelation for me, because of the relationship I had with my father, that God would be pursuing me just for me, and not just because he needed me to sing. I've always thought that singing was my purpose in life. So if I'm not doing it, I would feel very lost, very much like I'm failing. So to realize that God's love for me really doesn't have anything to do with that was a big deal for me—pretty exciting and a great thing, but just sort of staggering.

Leigh Nash

Leigh Nash

Tell me more about your relationship with your dad.

Because there were a lot of pieces missing in that relationship, it never really got fleshed out. It was more like a sketch and not a painting. And the thing with my relationship with God, it's still getting fleshed out as well, but it was definitely more like a sketch than a painting. There's some colors and some appreciation that weren't there before, and some new awe as well. It's been a revelation, but it's not that I hadn't been told that before. I grew up in church, but you start thinking a certain way and it gets ingrained, and then it takes something big to get you to rearrange your thinking.

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Do you think this new album is darker than a typical Sixpence album?

Well, that's a good question. I think it's more simple-sounding. It's definitely not as big on the orchestration. And there may be something in the writing that's a bit … Let's just say it's less veiled than before. There are certainly songs like "Failure" that are pretty dark. Matt wrote that. I can't tell you exactly where it comes from in his mind, but it seems to be about getting older and trying to get where you think where you ought to be. It's such a haunting and beautiful song.

And some of the other songs?

One of my favorite songs, and I can't really get too detailed about it, is another one that Matt wrote called "Don't Blame Yourself." He called me over to his house while he was working on it, and he started playing it. And I'm reading the words, and I started to tear up because I realized it was about me. It's a very intensely personal, sweet message, basically, to me from Matt. It was sort of in response to what I went through with the divorce, and it was a very sweet, brotherly kind of song to me. It means the world to me, but it's a very emotional one for me to perform.

One song I wrote with Stephen, "Sooner than Later," came about after my father passed away (in 2007). Stephen, who has been a best friend for a long time, came to my dad's funeral with me in Texas, and that meant a lot to me. It was a powerful experience for us to share that together and to be at that funeral. Anyway, we got back to Nashville, and Stephen started writing the song. And I don't think I heard it for maybe a month or two, but finally he said, "I've got the chorus to a song," and it was so beautiful. And then I finished the song with him and wrote the rest of the words. It's a beautiful ode to my father but through the eyes of Stephen, who at the time was my best friend. [They were married a few years later, in 2011.]

So, Matt and Stephen both wrote songs that really captured you. Talk about friendship and people who really know and love you.

I know! And even that they care to. I'm pretty blessed. Yeah, the record is very conversational, and that's why the first title was going to be Strange Conversation. Then we changed it because we felt lost.

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Four years ago you said, "This album's going to be better than anything we've done yet." Do you still feel that way?

I do. Definitely, hands down. People might be thrown by the differences on this record, but I do feel like it's our best. It's progressive for Sixpence, but it still sounds like us and it's exactly where we, well, where we were two years ago. But I think it still sounds like what we would do now. And we're very proud of it. And we can't wait to make another record.

Photos by Tec Petaja