Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Lisa Stansfield: A deeper understanding

Lisa Stansfield
Lisa Stansfield Lisa Stansfield Lisa Stansfield Lisa Stansfield

4 years ago the album “Seven” propelled internationally-renowned UK RnB-soul singer/songwriter/actress Lisa Stansfield back into the spotlight after an almost 10-year hiatus. Having been welcomed back with open arms by critics, peers and fans alike, she hit the ground running with not only a new album but an extensive UK and European tour - it soon felt like she had never been away…well almost.

Fast forward to present day and Stansfield, with the help of her long-term writing partner/producer/manager and husband, Ian Devaney, has released her 8th studio album, “Deeper”, through one of Europe’s finest independent labels, earMUSIC. This time with the added contribution on production duties of longtime band member/congealer/songwriter/Snowboy & the Latin Section bandleader, one time Craig Charles’ Fantasy Funk Band bandleader/author/DJ/Radio 6 show programmer and Latin music ambassador, Snowboy.

“Deeper” delivers a veritable smorgasbord of styles and genres and sees the artist delve deeper into new musical territories. Stansfield ebbs and flows into Jazz, Blues, Latin and Northern soul while anchoring this release in familiar R’n’B/soul waters. Tracks such as the 80s influenced “Everything”, Northern tinged “Twisted”, mega catchy “Billionaire”, Blues infused “Hercules”, stylishly sultry “Desire”, deliciously understated “Coming Up For Air”, dynamic dancer “Best Of Love”, funky plucking “Butterflies”, sumptuously stringed “Just Can’t Help Myself”, disco burner “Never Ever”, expansive sounding album namesake “Deeper”and a first-class cover of Family Stand’s all-time classic R&B banger, “Ghetto Heaven”, give this release an undeniable identity.

Yours truly, B&S Editor Lee Tyler, was lucky enough to sit down with the UK’s 20 million album shifting R&B royal for a bright and breezy interview at The Marylebone hotel, in London’s West End.

So, new album… I can’t believe it’s been 4 years!

“I never realise actually, how long it is between albums… Obviously, when you’ve made an album you work it. So I don’t notice all that time (has gone by) because I’m on the road and working - then you come back and you start doing the next one”.

Was it a conscious effort to set the wheels in motion on a new album?

We’ve just done things as we go along really…we’ve always been like that. I think with the last album and this album we’ve just thought, lets just fookin’ go for it like we’ve not done for a while, and I think we got quite a good response for the last album. Really, it was just like starting from scratch. Gig wise, we did a few really little gigs at first because I didn’t want to go in places where I knew I could sell out, just to do the same thing again, so it was nice just to see it creeping and building”.

This album is very different, it’s like the Lisa Stansfield we know and then you’ve gone in other directions musically.

“It’s weird, it’s like I’ve got 2 different audiences…”

Or more! (laughs) There’s Latin, R&B, Soul, Blues, Northern…

“Yeah, but when you listen to it on the whole, it makes complete sense. I always equate it to when I was younger and I was getting ready to go out - you play tracks when you’re going out and then you go out into the night as a warrior! (laughs) …and you go to the club. That to me is this album, this album is a ‘Friday night’ - a complete Friday night. It’s has ‘getting ready’ songs, the ‘falling in love’ songs, the ‘hope for the future’ songs that you put in every Friday night. Gonna meet the person I wanna spend the rest of my life with - gonna meet someone, get a new job, make loads of money - it’s like, everything is going to happen on the weekend (and it’s on this album). Then you’ve got “Ghetto Heaven”, which is like, for me, I’ve just walked out the club and I’m walking down the street and it’s all calm”.

What made you pick that cover?

“Well, I’ve always loved that song. When we toured “Affection”, the first gig we ever did was in Liverpool. I woke up the morning of the gig in the Adelphi hotel and it was on the TV and it was my favourite song of the time - I just sang along to it and I was checking to see if I could sing all the notes and everything, to see if it was OK for the show. We’ve not played Liverpool since… it’s got a lot to answer for! (laughs) It’s a dangerous one to do”.

I agree. You don’t hear many cover versions but you definitely made it your own.

“I was s#itting it a bit, but I was in my own environment and if you f#ck it up nobody knows (laughs) - but, it really works! (Original singer Sandra St. Victor) has listened to it and says she really likes it. She said, “I think it’s unbelievable and when they play New York I really want to get up there and sing it with her”. I think it does sound like me musically and everything - it’s just an amazing song”.

First release from the album, “Billionaire”, was it a natural choice?

“Literally, because everyone just picked up on it…it’s a very immediate song, I suppose it’s a good one, to like, whack people in the face with!” (laughs)

I think it’s got that audience sing-a-long feel to it…

“Do ya think? I’ll do that one when I want a rest! (laughs) They’ll go “not me baby…” that’s the one! (continues laughing)

The production on the whole album is second to none…

“Ahh yeahhh, my hubby… he’s alright. And Snowy…Snowboy. They work really, really well together. It’s weird that we’ve never really done that before - it was like, there was a little bit of magic, I think. (Snowboy’s) like a walking encyclopaedia.

What’s Ian’s music knowledge like?

“He’s not as anoraky as Snowboy - Snowboy won’t mind me saying that. (Ian) knows his onions… He started playing at school and is classically trained. But obviously, he didn’t want to do that but it’s really good that he’s got that under his belt because he can break all the rules. He made then so he can break them. Know what I mean? And he’s good at it.

How many songs did you write for the album?

I think at one time, and Snowboy knows more than me cos he kept counting them all (in her best Snowboy) ”you know how many f#cking songs that we’ve got now…how we gonna do it?”

(laughs) Double album…triple album!

“He kept saying that, yeah. We have done double vinyl, actually. I think at one point we had 25/30 songs, we do it on nearly every album we do. Maybe one or two will end up on the next album, I don’t know - you say that and then you just write a load more songs! (Laughs)

The album “Deeper” and single “Billionaire” are both out now on earMUSIC.

You can also catch Lisa Stansfield at Proms In The Park at London's Hyde Park on September 8.

You can read more from our exclusive interview with Lisa Stansfield, including her thoughts on songwriting with husband Ian Devaney and if there are any potential plans to mark the 30th Anniversary of her seminal debut album "Affection" in the current issue of Blues & Soul magazine - click the 'BUY NOW' link below to order straight from the B&S shop or read on for high street retailer details...

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