Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Tongue in cheek toast to a more elegant era

SHE’S been hailed as a “sultry jazz chanteuse”, has sung live at Wembley with the Central Band of the Royal Air Force in front of 95,000 people, and was Britain’s official representative at the Baltic Song Festival held in Karlshamn, Sweden, at the weekend

SHE’S been hailed as a “sultry jazz chanteuse”, has sung live at Wembley with the Central Band of the Royal Air Force in front of 95,000 people, and was Britain’s official representative at the Baltic Song Festival held in Karlshamn, Sweden, at the weekend.

Retro pop singer—songwriter Purdy is clearly going places ? and with her debut album on the horizon she’s about to get there even faster.

For now, she’s probably slightly better known to readers of the Henley Standard as Rebecca Poole ? the singer who grew up on Ian Fleming’s Joyce Grove estate in Nettlebed, where her dad was a farmer.

The name change came about early last year, shortly after she had started working on her debut album at Battersea Park Studios.

Says Rebecca ? sorry, Purdy: “Purdy is a nickname because my brother’s first band was called Purdey, named after Purdey from The Avengers. I was going to do a deal with Alan McGee’s label and he suggested that I had a name change, so I picked a nickname.”

Alan McGee is best known as the man who discovered Oasis, so his interest in Purdy’s work bodes well for the long—awaited release of her album, Diamond in the Dust, later this year.

This has been pencilled in for October 30, but the first single from the album, Shook Shook, is out on Friday, August 14 ? the video having already racked up over 11,000 hits on YouTube.

Five days later, on Wednesday, August 19, Purdy has a homecoming gig lined up at the Crooked Billet in Stoke Row.

Then, following the release of her album, she is set for one of the biggest gigs of her career when she supports Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra on a five—date UK tour ? including at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday, November 27.

So what makes Purdy tick?

A clue can be found in the lyrics to her new single, which reference the doomed love affair between film stars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

“Dark romance” is a phrase Purdy has used to characterise her music. Where does that come from?

“Obviously I watched a lot of James Bond films growing up, but I also love film noir, Lauren Bacall, Bogart films.

“I love watching old black and white films, romances. My mum watched a lot of Cary Grant films and I’ve just picked up on that, I don’t know, more elegant era. It’s a very romantic notion, but I just fell in love with it.

“The Shook Shook video’s a little bit tongue in cheek [laughs]. The song is actually sort of based on Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and that kind of impossible passion.

“In the song I say ‘I raise a toast and drink to the ghost of Mr B and Mrs Taylor...’ It’s just sort of a playful nod, really, towards that sort of passion, that tempestuous relationship. And, you know, I experienced something similar, so that’s where that came from.”

Perhaps a touch too lightheartedly, I suggest she should feel completely at liberty to grass herself up for the benefit of the Henley Standard’s readers.

Graciously, and indeed gracefully, she laughs this off. Laughter is never far away in conversation with Purdy ? she definitely has what lonely hearts columnists used to call GSOH.

But she does say this: “Every artist generally works from their own life experience. The album is relationship—based.

Diamond in the Dust [the title song] is about leaving something beautiful behind. The temptation is to go back because it’s sparkly and beautiful, but... it’s painful to walk away from that.”

Seeking to lighten the mood, I ask if she has ever met Henley’s former MP turned Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

“No, but I would love to meet Boris Johnson. I would love to. He’s definitely one for prime minister.”

The Boris question wasn’t too much of a long shot given some of the company Purdy has been keeping of late.

A visual artist herself, she was asked to sit for legendary painter Jack Vettriano, while one of her Rebecca Poole artworks is owned by Mick Jagger.

More recently, she’s sung with Simply Red at the Royal Variety Performance ? something that led to a guest vocal appearance on Mick Hucknall’s latest album.

She was also flown out to Necker Island in the Caribbean (owned by Richard Branson) to open for Video Games singer Lana Del Rey at a private party.

And closer to home she has been photographed with Eighties singer Sinitta ? the ex—girlfriend of X Factor supremo Simon Cowell.

I should ask what her plans are for world domination, but instead settle for inquiring whether her single will be available to buy in stores.

“This single won’t have a physical release on CD, but we do sell EPs at gigs.

“This is just a digital download and then the album comes out in October, so that will be a physical release.”

In keeping with her taste in films, it turns out that Purdy is something of a fan of days gone by.

Speaking with emphasis, she says: “I am definitely releasing my album on vinyl. I’m a big vintage fan. I’ve got a gramophone ? a 1914 gramophone ? that plays 78s. It’s really special.”

Is music from that time a source of inspiration?

“Definitely. I fell in love with the singers from the golden era like Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone. You know, Nat King Cole and Glenn Miller. I listened to them on my gramophone.”

It’s easier to get hold of that stuff now, isn’t it?

“It is. There are quite a lot of vinyl outlets now, especially in London, and it’s definitely coming back into fashion.”

Ah, fashion. When it comes to music it’s pretty safe to say the same maxim applies as in Hollywood. To wit: “Nobody knows anything.”

A bit of networking never hurt anyone, though, so I ask if touring in support of Jools Holland is any help for getting a slot on Later... with.

More laughter. “I hope so! I’ll be gutted if I don’t. I might try and bribe him with sweets...”

How long have you been doing music for now, if I may ask?

“I’ve been singing all my life, but professionally for about five years.

“I’ve written a lot of music in the past, but this is my biggest project with some serious people.”

Those people include producer Andy Wright, who has worked on all of Simply Red’s albums, while two of the songs were written with Matt Johnson of Jamiroquai.

Last but not least, I ask her if there is anything about herself that nobody else knows, but that she would none the less like to share with our readers.

She draws a blank at first, but later says: “I’m going to be doing a gig at Christmas. I really wanted to come back and do a gig in Henley, so I’m going to be appearing at the Kenton Theatre on December 9. That’s immediately after the tour with Jools. I’m really excited to be coming home ? I can’t wait to play there.”

So there you have it, Purdy fans ? present and future ? you read it here first.

Tickets for Purdy’s concert at the Crooked Billet are £20. For more details or to book, visit www.thecrookedbillet.co.uk

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