AFTER an enforced year off from touring, Lauren Housley has just released her second album, Girl From the North, a cocktail of blues, soul and Americana. She spoke to Michael Upton about having a baby with her husband and fellow musician Tom Dibb, what inspires her, and why she can’t wait to get back on stage.
Q: You posted on your Facebook page recently about all the things that inspire your song-writing – it was quite a long list!
A: It is really long — and I could have kept adding to it. It’s a reminder that everything in your life can inspire you and can come into your art.
Q: Another new song, This Ain’t the Life, has a real echo of Dolly Parton’s Nine to Five. Is that what you were aiming for?
A: There are actually quotes from three of my favourite female artists hidden away in the lyrics.
It is all about getting a grip on your life and making a change – and the chorus I just wanted to be fun.
I had that song a long time before it was going to be on an album. I think everyone can relate to it, especially after this year where people have made big changes to their lives. I hope it’s a really fun song for people.
Q: When we spoke last summer, you were just about to become a mum to baby Noah, and wondering if it would change your voice? How has having Noah impacted on your music?
A: I haven’t done as much singing as I would have done in normal times and we had to stop our Tuesday Night Live Facebook shows because our Noah wasn’t sleeping at that time of day, although I would like to start them again.
I think there’s maybe more of an emotional depth to my voice.
Another thing is I don’t have time to worry about things I would have done before, like whether I have water with me for a recording session.
If you have a couple of hours, you just need to make the most of it you can. It is nice to be able to be “in the moment” a bit more.
Q: How and where did you record the new album, Girl From the North?
A: Ninety per cent of it was recorded in our Rotherham studio, Lovebirds.
When we started recording the album, we were coming off the back of plans that had not worked so we were just focused on writing and recording an album.
We played through the night to get it recorded and just forgot about everything else.
It reminds you that at the end of the day it all comes back to the music.
It was a hard time, but we managed to do it.
Lovebirds is an amazing place to record, and we finished the album recording just before lockdown.
Two weeks before everything was shut down, Tom moved everything from the studio to our little apartment in Sheffield, which is where he mixed it.
Q: You were talking last summer about releasing the album in the autumn but it’s been put back to this spring. What was the thinking behind that?
A: With us becoming parents, I just allowed myself a bit more time with Noah and and decided to step back and enjoy it.
People have been so desperate for new music that it is nice to have an album ready to go as things begin to open up.
I’m desperate to share it with the world.
Q: How has it been becoming parents? Is Noah into his music?
A: It’s been amazing and yes, he does love music. It’s been hard as, like a lot of babies born in lockdown, Noah’s not been able to go to many places but I am excited to show him the rest of the world.
We play him a lot of music — he loves Amos Lee and Foy Vance. I’m looking forward to taking him to baby music sessions.
Q: Tell me about the instrumentation on the album — have you and Tom played many of the instruments yourself?
A: On This Ain’t The Life, that’s just me, Tom and a drummer but for other tracks we have brought in a few musicians we’ve played with before, including (guitarist) Steve Williams, (bassist) Mark Lewis, who produced one of the tracks, and our friend CJ Hillman, who plays pedal steel.
We are lucky we have some very talented friends.
There are a couple of tracks using synths, which we’ve not really done before. Some of the tracks started out with Tom playing on the synth and me just ad-libbing.
Tom has this vintage 1930 hollow-body guitar that became the main part of one song, Sing to Me. It just sounds so cool, it’s got a Spanish vibe, so it was important to keep that in when we recorded the track.
We also brought an organ in, which wasn’t easy to get into the studio!
Q: Girl From the North is out now. What are your hopes for it?
A: We are trying to get into the Americana chart. Charting is not everything, but it would mean the industry would look at me as someone who is taking things quite seriously – and it would mean a lot to be in there with some of my favourite artists.
Q: You’ve made the most of performing live through Facebook but how much are you looking forward to getting back to playing live?
A: I just cannot wait – it’s just the best thing.
For people who love live music, it’s a big part of their life. The online performance is nice in a different way but there’s nothing like playing live.
I can’t wait to play and let everyone rock out a bit.
Lauren and Tom performed a live streamed session online this week, which you can still see at https://www.rootslive.online/liveevents/lauren-housley-girl-from-the-north
Visit https://www.musicglue.com/lauren-housley to buy the new album.