“It’s really gorgeous to have people say to me it’s good that I’m back,” says soul-popster Lisa Stansfield.
“Not that I had a break. People think you had a break because they haven’t seen you, but I can tell you I have been busy!”
The 47-year-old is telling the truth: it’s not like she hasn’t been doing anything over the last decade. She’s been acting on both screens big and small as well as on stage. But what people are referring to is the gap between her last album and her new offering, this year’s Seven, which was her first record for 10 years.
For a singer who has sold in excess of 20 million records and, in All Around the World, produced one of the classic singles of the last 25 years, it has been a long absence, and one that has been keenly felt by her fans. So why the sabbatical from music?
“I didn’t think there was anywhere I really fitted in. There wasn’t much stuff that sounded like the music I make, and if you are making music and people don’t even know about it, you might as well make an album and put it in the loo and flush it away. There is no point banging your head against the brick wall. So I didn’t see the point”.
Recently, buoyed by the success of younger female artists – “it is brilliant… Lady Gaga, Adele, Jessie J… they are all female artists in control of what they are doing – they are amazing, it’s great to see” – Stansfield felt the time was right to make an album again. And Seven is a comeback worthy of her back catalogue, with its sassy soul as catchy as ever and her voice still in remarkably fine fettle.
“It was both the quickest and longest album to make, because I spent ages writing loads of songs, but then took just six weeks to record it. And the nice thing is, when we play the songs live, there is as much energy for the new tracks as the old ones. It’s not like they people are heading to the bar when they hear tracks they don’t recognise!
One of those classics, All Around the World, made Stansfield into a superstar, but the Rochdale-born singer admits she has enjoyed an up and down relationship with her 1989 hit.
“After 25 years, I have been through it all with that song. There was definitely a time when I fell out of live with it. But then I thought to myself ‘it’s a product of me it’s and a product of who I am, it came from my head and if it wasn’t for that song I wouldn’t be here today’. So I made my peace with it. Now, I am just glad that I wrote it and not somebody else.”
Stansfield shot to fame in a very different era for musicians, when record companies ruled the roost over artist – has she found it strange to release a record in the post-internet age?
“I’m not sure it makes that much difference. It can if you use your nous and use it your advantage and be more in control of yourself. I think you can be less controlled as a commodity, because that is what a lot of record companies see you as, a commodity. Younger artists are on the case with it, which is great for them, but I’m not sure it makes too much of a difference to me.”
And one area where Stansfield, who is on tour throughout 2014, will not be fully embracing the internet is on Twitter. For her own safety, of course…
“I do tweet, but I have to go through a filter and have somebody check it for me before it goes out. Otherwise, I would get into trouble… I know what I’m like. I don’t want to get drunk and then wake up with a hangover and see that I’ve put a compromising picture of myself on the internet for the world to see!”
Lisa Stansfield is back wit her new album, Seven – out on February 10.