Inara George never meant to make her latest solo record — “Dearest Everybody,” her fourth — a nostalgic study of death, grief and mortality that stretched all the way back to the passing of her famous father, Little Feat anchor Lowell George, whom she lost when she was nearly five. But songs like “Somewhere New,” “Young Adult,” “Release Me” and the a cappella “A Bridge” simply began to fit that reflective pattern. “The whole album is about loss, although the songs that I started with were not really about my dad at all,” she says. “But it was my mom’s 70th birthday. I wrote her that song “Release Me,” and that opened the door to my own loss, and my family’s loss. It wasn’t intentional — it just happened.”
Growing up, George — who plays The City this week — understood she was rock royalty. But once she formed her first mid-‘90s outfit Lode, then the duo Merrick, before finally flying solo with 2005’s “All Rise” debut disc, she rarely discussed her dad in interviews, even though family friend Jackson Browne wrote a song of consolation, “Of Missing Persons,” specifically for her. “When your parent dies when you’re younger, it’s still painful at times, but it’s not something that I wrestled with a lot. I always defined myself by being myself,” she says. “So the whole record is just different versions of saying goodbye to people, and there are only a few songs about my dad.”
The L.A.-based singer, 43, has three sons with her filmmaker husband Jake Kasdan, and she’s maintained The Bird and the Bee, her spinoff duo with red-hot producer Greg Kurstin (currently wrapping a top-secret new volume in its “Interpreting the Masters” covers series, following 2010’s tribute to Hall and Oates). She has also collaborated with eccentric composer Van Dyke Parks (2006’s “An Invitation”), sung at the Hollywood Bowl with Garbage’s Shirley Manson, and even guest-starred on a recent Foo Fighters track, courtesy of Kurstin’s involvement with the project. But her artistic generosity was the foundation for “Dearest Everybody.”
A few years ago, as George’s pals got betrothed, she penned them deeply personal odes, then sing them at their weddings, some of which would later appear on her albums. ‘”And that started this tradition of trying to trying to climb into their relationships and capture who they were in music,” she says. As friends were hit with tragedy, even death, she applied that same schematic to “Dearest” songs of bereavement. “I’ve already sung one of this album’s cuts at a funeral, and you realize that people are dying all the time,” she says. “And I believe that just writing a letter is never as good as writing a song for someone.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Café Du Nord, 2174 Market St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20
Contact: (415) 431-7578, www.eventbrite.com