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Interview: Lisa Redford

PUBLISHED: 18:38 17 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:39 29 October 2010

Rob Garratt

Norwich is a city that has never had the musical recognition it deserves, but one woman looks set to change that. ROB GARRATT met shining star Lisa Redford.

Norwich is a city that has never had the musical recognition it deserves, but one woman looks set to change that. ROB GARRATT met shining star Lisa Redford.

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Norwich is not a city that chooses to force its way brashly onto the nation's musical centre stage. Instead it is a city of sounds where musicians play for love not money, inhabiting its own lively hub to the east of the mainstream, ignoring facile trends and silly fads.

But one singer looks set to break out and hit the world stage with the release of her new album today.

Norwich born-and-bread Lisa Redford is celebrating the release of her new record Clouds with Silver, an accessible yet heartfelt acoustic folk-pop gem.

Unsurprisingly, Lisa takes her inspiration from the very best of the singer-songwriter genre, including Carole King, Neil Young, Alison Krauss and Ryan Adams.

She began performing at an early age, playing in a variety of guises around the city and impressing audiences with her pure, controlled voice. She reached a greater audience a decade ago when she toured as a member of the acoustic group Redford, before turning solo in 2002.

Later that year she got her first break when she provided vocals and music for the ITV1 series Dare to Believe, before releasing her sparse debut album Slipstream in 2003. Her second release Lost Again in 2005 saw her taking a bigger, fuller band sound and provided her with her most well known track to date, the Nick Drake-tinged Dragonfly. A trip to New York earlier this year saw her record her latest album.

t Tell me about the album

“It's made up of heartfelt acoustic tracks with a very melodic feel. It's my third album and it builds on my previous work, it's more mature and more personal, and is a lot more sparse and acoustic than the last one.

I got to work with a lot of people I really wanted to this time, people like producer Brad Albetta - who has produced a lot of my favourite albums by people like Martha Wainwright and Teddy Thompson - and Jeff Buckley's drummer, Matt Chamberlain. Being a solo artist it's mainly just me, so when I record I make sure I chose people I really like to work with.

There's no title track like there has been on the last two albums, because I didn't want to highlight one song, I wanted the songs to flow like a journey.”

t How did you record it?

“Seven of the tracks were receded in New York, most of which were recorded live very, very quickly in just four sessions. The other four were recorded here in Hethersett, although I did something very high-tech, and two of them were sent all the way to Nashville to have strings added to, which were done David Henry, who's worked with R.E.M. and Alison Krauss.”

t Tell me about your relationship to Norwich

“Well, I went to CNS school, and I have always lived in the city centre. I went to uni in Kent, but then came back and did a music course here, and still live today. I love playing at the Arts Centre, I've played there lots. I also really liked the Playhouse when I played there last year. I've had a lot of support in the city, and I really appreciate that.

A lot of my influence comes from Norwich. In fact my song Dragonfly - which is probably my best known song - was written on the Broads.”

t What else inspires you?

“Other songwriters. If you hear a really well written song that you really like, it drives you to write something even better.

I am also inspired by books and films, my friends, things around me, everything. My first album was like a book I read, Slipstream, it's about achieving your dream.”

t How did you get into music?

“When I was a teenager I recorded some demos, and I won a competition to sing a theme tune for the BBC out of 8,000 other children, and after that I got a small record deal, and it's just gone from there. I decided at quite a young age, and whenever I've been doing something else it's always at the back of my mind that I'd rather be doing music. At the moment I also teach singing. It's something I enjoy doing, it's a skill that I have and want to pass it on to other people.”

t What music is influencing you at the moment?

“I really like Surjan Stevens, Ryan Adams - who's violinst, Claudia Chopek, did the string arrangements on my new album - and Josh Rouse. All sorts of other stuff, I was in a jazz trio for years… I also really like indie music, and some dance music, like Hot Chip, even though it's nothing like what I play.”

t What's it like promoting yourself?

“It's more rewarding when you get a good review or radio airplay, because it's all your hard work. You just have to be part of what's happening. You have to be pleased with anything you achieve. This way, it's all about the music. I am 100 per cent happy with this album. You've just got to go for it.”

t What does the future hold?

“Initially I just want to get the album out, and promote it and everything, and I'll be doing a lot of gigs in London. Then I plan to go over the US. I have an East Coast agent there who is booking me gigs. After that I want to go to Nashville for awhile and try and sell my songs to other singers. I have had other singers cover my work before and it's so rewarding. It is my ultimate goal as a songwriter to get others to play my work.”

t Clouds with Silver is released on Proper and is available for download on iTunes.

t Further listening: www.lisaredford.com, www.myspace.com/lisaredford

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