James Morrison returns to Northampton this month to headline the inaugural Alive at Delapre Festival.
The singer-songwriter, who went to school in Kingsthorpe, has been largely out of the spotlight since his 2011 album, The Awakening.
Having been on tour for the best part of a decade, Morrison decided to take a well-earned break, as well as planning his fourth album.
“I’ve been on tour for basically the last 10 years so have been spending some time down in Cornwall with my friends and family,” he explains.
“I’ve done a few charity gigs, renovated my house and got my studio together and now I’m getting back into writing for the next album.
“I’ve been spending time with my little girl and catching up with normal life.”
Morrison admits that after massive jaunts around south-east Asia and Australia towards the end of his last world tour, he was on the verge of burnout.
“I couldn’t have done another gig even if I wanted to,” he admits. “I really needed time out to reflect on everything. I’ve had a kid and I lost my Dad. A lot of things happened.
“It’s been nice to do normal stuff really. It sounds boring but it’s exactly what I needed.”
Morrison hasn’t decided if he’ll record his new album at his home studio, but has been using it as a base for much of his writing.
While The Awakening was influenced largely by the death of father and his steps into parenthood, he hopes its successor will be “more fun”.
“It’s really early days but I’ve got an idea of what I want,” he explains.
“I want it to be more retrospective, more fun and I want there to be great songs that have a good bass track underneath them. I just want it to be less shiny.
“Singing songs about your dad dying does take it out of you a little bit.
“I want it to be not so autobiographical and deep; obviously still have meaning, but just a lighter.
“I think I’m going to try to go down an alternative route of maybe working with a really good engineer or a good drum programmer who can write a little bit. There’s a few people I’ve got in mind.”
Morrison plans to spend at least a year writing and putting together the album which he does not expect to be out until next year.
He admits its something he wishes he could do faster but reveals it takes him a while before he can properly paint a picture of what the record will be like.
“I want it to be more pop. I get the picture of a hip hop beat and an acoustic guitar, something that can have a fat sound on the bottom end. There’s a certain amount I can take forward into the production, I’ve got a few ideas.
“I want to explore the funkier more R ‘n’ B version of them, rather than the ‘white pop’ version.
“I think it’s going to be more black music orientated.”
Morrison is from Rugby, but went to school in Northampton, attending Kingsthorpe Middle School and Kingsthorpe Upper School.
“I had some great times there,” he explains, “It was better than Rugby, put it that way.
“I remember I was a little scally at that time. I’d just started smoking and hanging out in parks.
“I had only just started playing my guitar, learning how to sing in front of people.
“It wasn’t so easy to just get your guitar out like it is nowadays. Everyone is playing guitars or singing songs now. Back then, it was either football or you were a lad, ‘a dodgy geezer’.
“I remember getting ribbed about playing music.
“I remember spending a lot of time on the Racecourse and at the balloon festival. I’ve got some good memories from living in Northampton.”
Turning to his fellow Alive at Delapre headliners, Morrison says: “I feel really excited to still be doing what I’m doing, I never take it for granted.
“I’ve worked pretty hard to keep where I am, so the fact I am a part of a line-up with Paul Weller and The Wanted is great.
“Weller is definitely one of those artists I listened to when I was growing up and writing songs, so it’s a nice little reminder of how far I’ve come really to be part of a line-up like that.”
Morrison plays Alive At Delapre on Sunday, July 21.