THERE was a time not so long ago when Rebecca Poole, the jazz singer and songwriter from Nettlebed, was in danger of becoming a latter-day forces sweetheart.
Her song, This Is The Song, which she performed with a Royal Air Force band on Remembrance Day at Trafalgar Square in 2012, was soft and romantic and had shades of a girl-next-door who knew her place was to stay home and keep the fires burning.
But Rebecca Poole’s goodie-two-shoes image has now been flung aside. She’s moved from Oxfordshire to Clapham, and after a year of nursing a broken heart and pouring her soul into a dozen new songs she is to release her first “proper” album this year under the altogether more sultry name of Purdy.
“At first I was sceptical about changing my name at all, but if I was going to do it I wanted it to be a nickname, like Blondie, rather than changing my birth name,” she says. “My brother’s first band was called Purdy, and there is the association with the Avengers. And it just seemed to fit in with that femme fatale/film noir thing. What’s great about becoming Purdy is that when I wrote that Remembrance Day song I was dubbed an English rose sweetheart and that labelled me a little bit. If I’m presented as this clean-cut person I can’t swear or be critical. As an artist there are many sides to you, and it’s nice to get into my dark side.”
Listening to one of those tracks, Diamond In The Dust, which she hopes will be the first single from the new album, it is clear her work has become more edgy. “Call me a bad girl, I will be anything you want me to be,” she croons in a husky, smoky voice suggestive of her great heroines, Nina Simone and Peggy Lee.