Unlike most musicians who picked up their guitars at age 3, Crain's musical story doesn't start until college, when she was looking for "a way out" of Shawnee, Okla. Crain still lives there, by the way.
Her latest solo album is (You) Understood, a collection of songs about relationships, though not always close ones. Sometimes, the songs are merely a "snapshot" of experiences Crain has had.
With such an expressive voice — which Crain describes as "a little odd" in an interview with Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon — critics often lump her into the "freak folk" genre.
"I think it's just the voice," Crain says. "Every once in a while, my voice might do a little weird thing, and they lump that into something freaky. I think that's a strange thing to be focusing on."
Living On Coffee And Crackers
Crain quit school to hit the road with a Chicago band. They played in coffee shops, living rooms, bars and the occasional "real show" at a venue.
"We had enough money for a pack of peanut-butter crackers and coffee and lived like that for a while," Crain says. "After a while, I got tired and I wanted to go home and sleep. At the time, it was exactly what I wanted to do. It was exactly what I needed."
Crain describes her music as "complicated."
"I went through a time where I just didn't know if the world needed another musician," Crain says. "I just feel like that all of the music that needed to be made, all the songs we needed as a human race, has already been created. I thought that it would be selfish of me to be making music and taking up people's time and energy. There's also the fact that I don't have any other marketable skills to support myself. It causes me such pain in my life sometimes, but it causes me such joy, too."