West Briton Tue 19 Jan 2016
CORNWALL-BASED singer Stephanie Kirkham releases her third album this week – a record that every GP in the land should prescribe for happiness.
Tiny Spark – produced by and co-written with Grammy Award-winning Phil Thornalley (Natalie Imbruglia, who had a massive hit with his song Torn, Pixie Lott, Bryan Adams, Thompson Twin and one-time member of The Cure) – is a joyous collection of instantly memorable songs.
In fact so catchy and upbeat is it that one of the album’s (many) standout tracks, Easy As 123, has been featured on European TV campaigns for both EDF and Peugeot. It’s the sort of record that should find a home on daytime Radio 2 with Stephanie’s hugely likeable, breathy vocals, singalong choruses, almost tribal rhythms and sweet ukulele riffs shining on the likes of Best Time Ever and the natural Prozac stomper Future Come On.
Stephanie, originally from Lancashire, told me: “Because no one was saying, ‘you’ve got to have an album out’ and we all got together when we felt like it led to the happy essence of the album.
“I had such a good time working with Phil; we were just working on the songs for the fun of it.”
They soon realised they had a complete album, and one which is very much influenced by her joy at being by the sea in Cornwall. She lives in a converted Methodist chapel near Hayle.
It’s also worth noting the beautiful packaging which mirrors the delights it hugs. The CD comes with a series of postcards featuring Stephanie’s own artwork, all wrapped in lime green tissue paper and delicately tied with a pink ribbon. It’s almost a crime to tear asunder.
The packaging also features some stunning images of Stephanie taken by renowned rock photographer and fellow Cornwall resident Phil Nicholls (who has taken classic pictures of everyone from Joe Strummer to Amy Winehouse).
Stephanie said: “Phil took some amazing pictures at the dunes in Hayle. My mum went backpacking when she was 16 and came to Hayle. She saw a piece of glass in the sand and dug away to reveal a massive bottle which she kept all these years, surviving loads of house moves. She insisted I brought it back with me when I moved to Cornwall, so it’s nice to be photographed back at Hayle.”
Stephanie originally signed a five-album deal with Hut/Virgin and in 2003 her well-received debut album That Girl was released. Six months into her deal, Hut closed and Stephanie began writing for her second album.
Sunlight On My Soul was released in 2006. Receiving fantastic reviews throughout the UK, critics praised her bold progression on an album that encompasses Tudor madrigals, Celtic folk, country and jazzy pop.
Tiny Spark is another musical change taking her in a more radio-friendly pop direction.
Stephanie has joined forces with Kaj Skjervik – himself a talented Cornwall-based singer-songwriter – to perform her songs live.
You can see the duo play at the album launch at Music Nostalgia, Pannier Market, Truro on Saturday at noon, 1pm and again at 2pm.
Tiny Spark is released on Easy Action Records on Friday, January 22.