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If you can't go on the road then create new lockdown album
Singer-songwriter Rebecca Downes has been using her lockdown time well after being forced to go a full 12 months since her last live stage performance. Rebecca has completed work on her fourth studio album, Stripped Back, which is released on her own label, Mad Hat Records, on April 9. It follows on from the Black Country performer's critically acclaimed third studio album, More Sinner Than Saint. Like many in the music industry, Rebecca has been limited to online gigs, mainly streamed from home, since she performed a storming set at Planet Rock's Winters End on 1 March 2020. Without the prospect of a tour to promote it, a full new studio album had to be put on hold, but Rebecca and co-writer Steve Birkett saw an opportunity to use the time to revisit and reimagine some of their most popular tracks.
Singer-songwriter Rebecca Downes to release new album. Photo credit Adam Kennedy
The result is Stripped Back, a new studio album that includes a fascinating re-working of six tracks from More Sinner Than Saint plus four numbers from her second studio album, Believe. Steve and Rebecca are such prolific songwriters that they were left with more than 20 songs that failed to make the More Sinner Than Saint album. Two of these - 'Blues For Us', which was released as a single on March 12, and 'Washing All Over My Heart' - now make their debuts on Stripped Back. Steve, a talented multi-instrumentalist, undertook the vast bulk of the playing and recording, as well as the arrangement, production and engineering, while musicians Neil Ablard, Nigel Darvill, Aiden Goldstraw and Vince Yarrington contributed 'remotely' to the track Hurts. The end product is a laid-back, yet vibrant album that shows a range and depth to Rebecca's voice that will be a surprise to those not familiar with all her work while also showing off the full scope of Steve's instrumental and vocal skills.
Rebecca said: "Once it was clear that gigging was some months away, we spoke and agreed that it was the opportunity to bring this project forward and get on with it. Then, when the first lockdown eased, we did some duo online gigs and that convinced us even more that there was real scope to present these numbers in a new and exciting way that would appeal to our supporters. And I'm over the moon that the two new tracks can be released at last. I have always really loved them, but I couldn't see how they would ever fit on one of our normal blues/rock albums." Steve added: "It has been a real labour of love for me to re-work and hone these tracks. It has also shown that we have the skills to take the music all the way from conception to release, and as independent musicians that is a really helpful capability."
New album includes two songs that failed to make previous release. Credit Adam Kennedy
01 Take Me Higher 02 Blues For Us 03 Screaming Your Name 04 Hurts 05 Sailing On A Pool Of Tears 06 Wave Them Goodbye 07 More Sinner Than Saint 08 Washing All Over My Heart
10 Night Train
11 Come With Me Baby
12 With Me