18 October 2021


I realise I haven’t posted on here much and I had big plans to keep you all up to date with how the album release went, how the return to live music felt and everything else in-between…but if I’m completely honest, it has all been so busy and overwhelming that I simply haven’t found the time or energy to sit down and write about it. If you’ve been following my adventures over on Instagram or Facebook, or perhaps via my mailing list (sign up here), you’ll know that things are going incredibly well with the album. It has honestly exceeded my wildest expectations, with continued radio play and reviews as well as a headline tour this December which is rapidly selling out. I’ve felt so grateful and so lucky, but it’s also been tricky not to feel overwhelmed after such a long period of nothingness during the pandemic. I’m sure many of you have been feeling the same mixture of excitement and exhaustion with the return to normality. Still, I am delighted with the response to the music and the live performances – it has been a dream to get back out there and see happy shiny faces smiling back at me from the crowd!

I do intend to post on here more moving forwards (though I make no promises) as I enter into what feels like a new chapter, post album release. And what does a new chapter call for? A new weapon with which to tackle whatever comes next!

I am so happy to be the proud owner of a BEAUTIFUL new guitar – handcrafted by the masterful independent luthier Sam McClaren. I visited Sam’s workshop a year or so ago to record a couple of live session videos on one of his P-16 Performance Series guitars and I fell in love with them there and then. Delicate, responsive, rich, lovely pick-up, easy to play… there wasn’t anything not to love, so I decided I needed to have one for myself! The last few months have been a delicious agony while it was being made, with Sam sending me regular photos and videos of the process. You can see all those over on Instagram under the ‘New Guitar’ highlight – it was fascinating to see his skills at work and a real joy to see my instrument emerging from pieces of wood.

At the weekend, I was finally able to go up to meet him in his studio just outside of Stockton and see my guitar for the first time. I think we were both a little nervous, after all, an instrument that forms your livelihood as well as your main hobby is an incredibly personal thing and Sam takes his responsibility very seriously. There was no need to worry though. The guitar is an absolute dream and I am SO happy with it. Just look at how pretty it is!

It has an alpine spruce top, Indian rosewood sides and back (which is amazingly striped), mahogany neck, ebony bridge and fingerboard, mahogany and ebony detailing and an LR Baggs Stage Pro Anthem pickup. I love the contrast of the light and dark woods, whilst the ebony trim really makes the pale spruce pop. But the cherry on the cake? Sam made a little crescent moon inlay out of Mother of Pearl and hid it in a place only I can see – such a special and thoughtful detail. As for the sound…it plays like a dream. I actually took the guitar straight from the workshop to play at a series of Nick Drake shows in the North East which always feels like a risk with no breaking-in period, but it was a real joy to perform with thanks to Sam’s skilful set-up.

The new guitar really couldn’t have come at a better time either. I am about to embark on three busy tours before Christmas. First stop…a UK tour supporting Richard Thompson at some seriously prestigious venues, including the London Palladium and the Birmingham Symphony Hall. I think walking out on these big stages will feel a tiny bit less nerve-wracking knowing that I have a wonderful new guitar to play. After all, beautiful instruments deserve beautiful venues to sing in. Hopefully I’ll be seeing some of you out there on the road and you’ll get to hear this guitar in person…and if you’re at all tempted, you can see these P-16 Performance Series guitars as well as his other guitars over on his website. Thank you so much Sam!

All photos by Carla Whittingham