‘It’s nice to know that people still want to hear me play and sing’ - James Morrison on his new music and upcoming tour
- Credit: Closer Artists
We caught up with James Morrison ahead of his headline Norwich show on March 25.
Having already bagged two number one albums, five Top 10 singles, won a BRIT award and achieved seven million sales worldwide, James Morrison is back and starting a new exciting chapter in his career.
With his latest album You're Stronger Than You Know recently hitting the shelves, fans were first treated to lead single My Love Goes On - a duet with Joss Stone.
'I've always wanted to sing with her. I've met her at loads of different gigs and she's sung with me on stage but we've never recorded together.'
'When the idea came about for doing a song with another person I just wanted to pick someone that I felt comfortable with and she was the main person I thought of. She's really cool, down to earth, easy going and a great singer – it was a dream team.'
This isn't the first time James Morrison has released a duet, having previously worked with Nelly Furtardo on Broken Strings and Jessie J on Up, but it is his favourite one to date.
'I'm 34 and I don't want to waste time working with people that it might not happen with. At least if I know her a little bit I won't feel so awkward about asking her to sing with me.'
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'It's been my favourite in terms of the song and how she works and musically I like where she's coming from as well.'
The single itself performed outstandingly getting A-Listed on BBC Radio 2 and accumulating millions of streams online - a response that James Morrison hadn't really expected.
'I just wanted to make an album that I felt proud of. I knew the song was a good one but I didn't definitely know or feel like it was going to be a single.'
'Most of the songs I put out that end up being big songs for me; I haven't got a clue what they are going to be like.'
'With Broken Strings, I nearly didn't put it on the album because it was so different to what I was used to doing. The idea of doing a duet before I did that song was like, well I never would have done a duet.'
You're Stronger Than You Know features a lot of honest song writing about family and the emotions James Morrison has dealt with over the past four years.
'I always want to try and write songs that are personal. I find it easier to write for myself, in terms of it being small and personal, to get the emotion into it.'
'I'm still quite subtle about it as I didn't want to be too obvious about what was going on because it's quite a difficult situation. I don't think anyone would want to listen to me moaning about how bad my life was.'
'People go through stuff but you can come through it and that's what I wanted to get across - that I've come through it and if I can do it so can you.'
'I'd rather not have to talk about it but if it's the truth then I will. Equally I try to keep the really personal details out of it and talk about it in broad strokes so that it doesn't get too upsetting.'
'I'm so happy and so grateful with where I'm at that all the stuff that was difficult at the time I can talk about now because I'm out of it.'
Having never previously worked solely with one producer on an album, James Morrison teamed up with Mark Taylor to create this album, recording it at British Grove Studios in London.
'When I was talking to Mark about making this kind of album, and then I signed to the label that he was on, it seemed like the easiest decision to let him produce it.'
'He's known me for so long, we wrote a lot of songs together and I talk to him about my frustrations on being more pop than soul. He was the first person I thought of because he knows so much about my situation and he gets my musical references.'
The album was intended to be a live record that cements James Morrison as a singer rather than a pop artist.
'I wanted to reference the heritage of music that I love, soul music and 60s/70s music, but equally I just wanted it to be a live sounding album.
'I wanted to keep string arrangements out of it and not plaster it with too much production so that you can hear the vocals and hear the lyrics.'
'I wanted the album to have a lot of different flavours to add to all the pop stuff like Wonderful World, You Give Me Something, Broken Strings and all that stuff. The new stuff is less pop and a bit more authentic.'
The tour, which kicks off next week at The LCR UEA in Norwich, will be his first in three years.
'I'm always nervous about singing music. There are a few times when I can control it but I always enjoy it when I'm out there.'
'It's quite an unnatural thing as I'm naturally shy - I'm not a show-off but I have to be a show-off when I get up on stage. I have to put myself in a different mind set.'
'All the times that I never get to speak my mind or be confident, I put it all together in a little bubble and I take it on stage with me and I just get it out of my system that way.'
'I'm definitely getting to the point where I'm more excited to go on stage than I am nervous because there's so much stuff out there that I don't like and so many singers that aren't that good but are really successful - that it gives me the urge to go on stage and sing the s*** out of it so that they go 'ah yeah that's what it's meant to be like'.'
Fans will get to hear the new material alongside some of the songs that James Morrison is perhaps best known for.
'I'm excited to get the tour going. I'm nervous but I'm also excited to play the new material and see what people think. It's nice to know that people still want to hear me play and sing. I haven't got any expectations other than to play my arse off and hopefully they'll sing along and they'll like the new tunes.'
After the UK tour is complete, James Morrison will be heading out to perform a collection of shows all across Europe.
'I've got some gigs in Europe and some festivals too, but I can't say which ones they are yet. I think I might be doing a mini radio tour in America and I might be going to Australia as well.'
'It's all early days as the album has only just come out – it depends where they are hungry for it really.'
• Tickets to James Morrison's show on March 25 at The LCR UEA are available for £28.50 advance from the UEA Ticket Bookings website