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Published April 3rd 2020
From modelling sofas to releasing her debut solo album
English singer-songwriter Amy Birks has been utilising her time well during the coronavirus outbreak which has left most of the world's population in self-isolation. Not content with celebrating the release of her debut solo album, All That I Am & All That I Was, on Friday 3rd April, she has been busy putting the finishing touches to her follow-up record, which is not due for release until Spring next year. Amy, whose musical likes and influences range from Carole King and Natalie Merchant to Kate Bush and Tori Amos, is back in her native Staffordshire, working through a collection of around 30 songs which she has penned just in the last 18 months or so. Amy clearly caught the song-writing bug big time following the break-up of her band, the Beatrix Players, which she originally conceived while studying for a degree in Music Technology at Staffordshire University.
Amy Birks talks about her debut solo album. Photo Richard Shakespeare
Amy, who previous jobs ranged from modelling furniture ("I'm only five foot three so made the sofas look bigger!") to designing sunglasses, needed a change of direction after the Players. She says: "The last six months with Beatrix Players were a bit stale, we weren't really doing any writing and I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and wanted to work with different instrumentalists. But I couldn't really do that because the rest of the band didn't want to open up to other collaborators. I'm not saying I was suppressed but it was bound to open the floodgates as far as my song-writing was concerned. I really started to find my feet and also met some very interesting people." Beatrix Players had earlier won the Limelight (best new band) category at the 2017 Prog Awards for their album Magnified. Amy adds: "Winning the award really started opening doors, such as opening for Carl Palmer (formerly of ELP) and working with Steve Harley."
All That I Am & All That I Was was released on April 3
All That I Am & All That I Was, described as a 'progressive, classically-influenced chamber-pop tour-de-force', contains 11 of Amy's fresh batch of self-penned songs. They include the Cornish coast-themed opener Jamaica Inn, a nod to Amy's love of classic English literature, and the flamenco influenced I Wish, which contains a.lyric based on the words of poet Christina Rossetti. But the album also has a dark side. Amy explains: "There are some deeply personal songs on here, so it was a bit of therapy writing them. I cover divorce (Not Every Night and With All That I Am), which I went through in 2016, while Say Something is about mental abuse, which I experienced when I was at school and also while I was modelling when I was 17 and 18. These songs help to take me through very difficult parts of my life. But a love story, Keeps Me Going, is the last track on the album, so we end on a happy note."
Solo album marks milestone in Amy's career. Photo Richard Shakespeare
Amy, who is currently working on another 15 to 20 songs, admits to being frustrated that she is unable to tour with her debut solo album. "We are looking to come back stronger after this is all over, so there will be some bigger tours next year." In the meantime, fans can obtain the new album, which is available on CD and vinyl, by visiting: https://themerchdesk.com/index.php?route=product/category&path=88_296. It can also be obtained via all the usual download and streaming services.