Ahead of his UK tour which includes a date at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, luminous singer songwriter James Morrison talks about working with Joss Stone on his new single and rediscovering his musical voice.
After bursting onto the music scene in 2006 with his debut single You Give Me Something, it was apparent to all who heard him that there was a unique, raspy soulfulness to Morrison’s voice and songwriting talent.
It was little surprise that he walked away with a Brit Award the following year for Best British Male artist, which is when he met Joss Stone, who presented it to him.
That’s where we start, discussing Joss, as he recalls with irony how he would hear her songs playing on the radio while working for a van hire company to make ends meet.
They’ve kept in touch ever since they met, although never worked professionally until now: “She’s so natural and really cool,” he tells me, and admires how it seems to happen effortlessly for her in front of the microphone.
Their duet My Love Goes On is a classy, well constructed soul song which has been on BBC Radio 2’s playlist in the last few weeks.
Coming from a creative family, James explains how his voice is a fusion of different influences spanning the Tamla and Stax sound of the 60s, Gillian Welsh courtesy of his father, and his name sake Van Morrison.
After more than a decade in the music industry and seven million record sales, there’s a profound sense of realism about Morrison’s attitude and what success has brought, which equips him for dealing with highs and lows.
He commented: “I say to myself ok, I’m going to write a song today, am I going to worry about it being a hit, or am I just going to enjoy the process?”
The pressure of writing songs on demand compromised his musical identity on his previous album, but he feels richer for the experience and said: “It was about rediscovering my musical voice, a sort of consciousness.”
We dig a bit deeper into his inspiration for some of the new material; one song is written for his daughter (Until The Stars Go Out) whom he says is a driving force for all that he does and the path he hopes to send her on.
Morrison claims he’s happiest when things are kept musically simple and with a well established band around him, he feels everything is set: “I can’t wait to play the the new songs,” he said. The new album Stronger Than You Know was released earlier on March 9, ahead of his playing at De La Warr Pavilion on Tuesday March 26. Doors open 7pm. There are limited tickets remaining, cost is £28.50, booking on 01424 229111 or www.dlwp.com. By Stuart Large.