IT'S the second time I've interviewed Lisa Stansfield over the phone, and the second time I come away feeling what a down-to-earth, lovely northern lass she is, nattering away with no airs or graces as if to an old mate, despite her world-wide stardom, despite her Grammy nomination, her multi BRIT, Ivor Novello and Silver Clef Awards and despite the fact that I've got my 2,342th head cold of the year so far, and am not exactly full of chatty beans.

"Ooooh, it's a good job we're on the phone, if you were near me, I'd be like, 'GET AWAY FROM ME'" she says. The last thing she obviously needs right now in the midst of of a tour, is to catch a stinking cold.

We're discussing the fact that I reckon it must be a super boring part of the job, having to talk to journalists all day on the phone one after the other, asking the same questions.

I remember once laughing out loud, after reading an interview with Guardian journalist Simon Hattenstone, who reported her as saying how she could find interviews a bit weird, how she once she turned up to one, just to be asked her about her health.

"I was sitting in the room with this guy, and it's like I'm at the fookin' doctors or something. 'So is there any history of heart disease in the family?' And I said, 'Excuse me, why are you asking me all these questions? I feel like you're going to write me out a prescription or something.'" He told her he was interviewing her for a column called Doctor's Notes" she had said.

"Yeah they can be boring. Obviously I do have me bad days, you know, some days you could just do without it" she admits frankly. "It might just be you've got out of the bed on the wrong side, but all-in-all, I'm pretty good. I like talking to you."

The reason for our talk is that the powerhouse soul vocalist is just promoting her brand new album, Deeper, which she will be airing when she arrives at the Cliffs Pavilion next Friday, April 20.

Lisa is very excited about it. She wrote it with her song-writing partner Ian Devaney, produced by Ian and Southend's own Mark “Snowboy” Cotgrove, while Lisa took the role of executive producer.

It's her eighth studio album, and creating it she says, was “a wonderful adventure. I really believe there’s a special something in this record. I’m so excited to let it go out into the big wide world with pride.”

She's been working with Snowboy for years now, with him in the role of her percussionist.

"It's really nice working with him" she said. "I've not done much in the studio production-wise with Snowboy before, but I thought, well Ian and Snowboy get on really well together, the three of us do, so we thought it'd be great for him to produce it.

"We had a really great time doing it and I think you can hear a lot of love and laughter on it. It has a similarity to it I think, to the first stuff we did. I've been saying to people that this album is the grown-up child version of the first album we did.

"It's nice because a portion of our audience is the same age as us, so they remember the first album, but then we'll have these 13-year-old fans in the crowd at the gigs. I don't think they're telling their parents they've come to the gig!" she laughs.

One of the tracks on the album is a cover of Ghetto Heaven, made into a huge hit in 1990 by Family Stand.

"It's one of those songs I absolutely love" said Lisa. "When I did my first tour, that song was massive, it was when I first started out. And I remember waking up once and that song was playing on the TV, on one of those Saturday morning programmes, I think it was Going Live, and I was singing along to it. Anyway I did it that night in Liverpool and it went down well.

"Well the lead singer of Family Stand, Sandra St. Victor, heard it and said it sounded great. I mean, that's a real compliment!"

Of course music isn't the only string to Lisa's bow. She's now been on screen a number of times, in films, TV series, documentaries and also on stage.

"I don't really regard myself as an actor, but I do like to do it" she said. "If I get offered something I might take it, but I don't outwardly pursue it, it just might fall in my lap. Usually I get asked to appear as a singer in a nightclub. I don't really want to do everything under the sun though."

With around 20 million records sold worldwide and had a string of international top 10 hits in her bank, and now the promotion of Deeper underway, it seems like this northern star shows no signs of stopping.

Lisa Stansfield is at The Cliffs Pavilion, in Station Road, Southend, on April 20.

Tickets are sold out.

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