It is not uncommon – in fact, it’s practically compulsory – for musicians to claim that their latest album is their best yet. But Kathryn Williams may just have a point in hailing her lovely new album Crown Electric as her seminal release.
Press and public seem to agree with her – she jokingly reports “100 per cent satisfaction!” from the responses she has received so far.
“I just feel like we got all the ingredients right,” she says. “I’m not negating the rest of the albums but I’m on a journey and over the years I’ve honed my songwriting skills.”
She has certainly made a quantum leap from the shy singer/songwriter who was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2000.
Since then, she has conquered her stage fright, sung with the likes of John Martyn, released an album of children’s songs as The Crayonettes, collaborated on a band project, The Pond – which she jokes was great until she realised “I couldn’t have my own way” – and found a musical soulmate in Neill MacColl – son of Ewan, half-brother of Kirsty – who produced and played on Crown Electric.
She further broadened her horizons for this album by attending a weekend writing workshop run by Squeeze frontman Chris Difford – a man who clearly knows a thing or two about songwriting.
“Forming relationships with other writers is really nice, because I haven’t really socialised in that way before,” she says. “I sit in my little studio and write things down that no one will ever hear or see and giggle to myself like a little kid, and it’s a secret little world where I have the rules and I don’t quite know what they are but they work for me.
“But I’ve learned a lot from writing with other people. You can walk into a room and think ‘I’m not going to do anything good with this person’ and then you open up and realise that there is interest in everyone.”
Williams has also started writing for other artists. “You have a brief, the artist’s name and what they want to sound like, and you have to think of their voice, put yourself in their place and think about what they’d want to sing. It’s all the same job, but there’s so many different parts.”
Which must make Williams a woman of parts. “Yeah, I can do anything,” she quips. “Do you want me to clean your house?”
• Kathryn Williams plays the Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, tonight; Green Hotel, Kinross, tomorrow; Oran Mor, Glasgow, 10 October; and The Caves, Edinburgh, 11 October. Crown Electric is out now on One Little Indian