It's been eight years since Michelle Branch put out a solo album -- featuring the big hit "Are You Happy Now?" -- and won a Grammy for her Santana collaboration, "The Game of Love."
Currently, she's working on a new album. And tonight, she's playing an acoustic hour of hits and holiday songs at The Venetian, with ticket sales benefiting HELP of Southern Nevada.
But where the hell has Michelle Branch been for eight years?
Well, in 2004, she married her bass player, Teddy Landau. In 2005, she gave birth to their daughter, Owen Isabelle. So she's been more focused on family than music.
"I had a lot of people who told me, when they found out I was pregnant: 'Well, that's the end of your career,' " Branch, 28, says.
It didn't end her career. But she took motherhood very seriously, and it complicated her musical freedom.
"It doesn't allow me to be as selfish as I used to be, when I could put out records whenever I wanted," she says. "You have to pick and choose when you tour and where you tour."
I should point out Branch has released a few music projects since 2003.
In 2006, she and her backup-singing friend Jessica Harp put out a country album under the group name The Wreckers, nominated for a Grammy and a Country Music Award under country-duo categories.
She wrote songs for Mandy Moore, TV shows and movies. Raising a child made her a better songwriter who sees the world as something bigger than herself, she says. And last year, she released an EP.
But let's be honest. Usually, when a pop star hits the big time as Branch did -- with "Are You Happy Now?" "Everywhere" and "Game of Love" -- they strike while the iron is hot and make follow-up albums every year or so, forever and ever.
They don't normally slow down except to make an occasional foray into country music and an EP.
Branch laughs with an easy heart when I say that to her.
"I have a lot of male friends who have the best of both worlds. They're able to come home to their wife and family -- and tour," she says.
"For women musicians, it's always a weird, scary balance. You think: The minute you (become a mom), you can kiss your career goodbye."
I tell her Madonna didn't kiss anything goodbye. Madonna just kept on trucking.
"She's also a gazillionaire," Branch says and laughs again. "She can staff an entire child experience to follow her around wherever she goes. I can't really do that."
But Branch isn't complaining about her choices. And she is working, putting the finishing touches on a new album for release in the spring or summer.
It's just that the Arizona-raised singer-songwriter lives a happy family life in Los Angeles as "a backyard chicken farmer," as she calls herself on Twitter.
She explains: Once she had her daughter, she became obsessed with the idea of where food comes from and started her own "backyard flock."
"We're all hippy dippy over here" in California, she says.
"We buy organic when we can. I just took it a step further and said, 'You know what? I'm gonna keep chickens for pets and use them for their eggs.' "
On a normal morning, her daughter strolls into the garden and selects vegetables and eggs.
"They're the most delicious, fabulous eggs you've ever had," Branch says. "We have the best breakfast ever. We're pretty spoiled."
When Branch drives around with daughter in tow, she plays her own new-music demos to see which songs the littlest Branch enjoys or skips.
"Kids are the best critics," she says. "I've made jokes to A&R people at the label, like, 'We should just get a bunch of 6-year-olds in here, because they'll tell us whether they like it or not, and not worry about hurting our feelings.' "
At home, she marvels at her daughter for listening constantly to the soundtrack for the animated movie "Rio."
"I'll walk in her room and she'll be singing it from top to bottom," she says. "I hear about it at least 10 times a day. It's nonstop in our house."
I ask Branch not to let all that "Rio" music influence her to the point where she's singing about rainbows and unicorns.
"I will not," she promises. "I will leave that to Taylor Swift."
Doug Elfman's column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Email him at email@example.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.