♥Album now on Pre Order!
"Absolutely brilliant" Tom Robinson, BBC6Music
"Spine-tingling. Fiona Bevan completely transported me” Alex James, Blur
"Fiona Bevan took us on startling odysseys that suggested Erykah Badu, Joanna Newsom and Kate Bush spine-tinglingly joined." Guardian
♥Fiery sweet singer songwriter adventuring into love’s dark corners via soul-folk-pop♥
♥wrote "Little Things" with Ed Sheeran for One Direction
FIONA BEVAN, BIOGRAPHY
Fiona Bevan’s bewitching music has roots that run deep. They stretch as far back as the Suffolk-born singer’s childhood home, in which her family sang songs from black and white films and old musicals around a piano and her parents played her Cole Porter and Doris Day. They snake through her spell as an English literature student, several years spent perfecting her craft on the London club circuit and an extraordinary career as a writer that ranges from commissions for film, classical compositions and a Tate exhibition to co-penning a chart-topping hit, Little Things, with Ed Sheeran, for boy band behemoth One Direction.
That Bevan describes her debut album as ‘pop in disguise’ makes perfect sense. The dozen, dynamic songs on Talk To Strangers have hooks, harmonies and melodies that linger from first listen, but they are defiantly timeless as opposed to time-bound, as rooted in the past as they are in the present and purposely hard to pin down. Among the guitars, drums and piano, you’ll hear violin, double bass, accordion and harp, all played by Bevan, a hapi drum played by producer Shawn Lee and birdsong, some of it real, some of it whistled by Bevan-as-bird.
“I didn’t grow up on pop,” says the singer. “I heard The Beatles and Hendrix for the first time at 15 and they blew my mind. But by then I had found my own way of using my voice. I have a high voice that’s not particularly fashionable, but it helped me channel my songs. I’ve made all sorts of music in the past, but I’ve always known how I should sound.”
The album’s storytelling lyrics are as crucial as their impeccable settings, their meanings central to the songs. A relative of Robert Louis Stevenson (he was her great great grandfather’s cousin), Bevan grew up immersed in books, began writing poetry aged eight and stumbled in to her first band at 15, having joined to play bass, but been promoted to co-writing and singing the songs by the group’s first gig.
“I love clever, interesting pop and I adore storytelling,” says Bevan. “It’s important to me that no words are wasted. I write about real things that have happened to me or my friends. I try to find the focus of a story and work from there.
“My writing process is really an attempt to understand who I am and how not to be walked over in the world – as a woman, as a shy person, as someone doing something different. I’d say it’s about finding myself, if that didn’t sound so terribly cheesy.”
Talk To Strangers was recorded entirely on analogue equipment with artist and producer Shawn Lee at his Bloomsbury studio in short bursts throughout spring last year.
“The idea was to capture the energy of playing live,” says Bevan. “Nothing is digital or sterile; it’s golden and human. We recorded everything live and not to click and captured something that I’ve never managed in a studio before - the magic of live performance.”
Playing live has been the cornerstone of Bevan’s career since she first stepped on stage in Colchester aged 15. Her teenage band lasted four years, after which she moved to London to study and went solo with her guitar. Along the way, she has played with dozens of other artists in all sorts of genres of music. There was even a brief spell as a bassist in a band mentored by Adam Ant and fronted by Georgina Baillie (the woman at the centre of the Sachsgate scandal).
The song she wrote with a pre-fame Sheeran (the pair used to play the same club nights) spent years lost thanks to a misplaced mobile phone before Bevan came across the lyrics on a piece of paper. She sent them to Sheeran, who remembered and recorded the music. One Direction overheard Little Things, insisted they have it and took it to the top of the charts in late 2012.
Last year, Bevan wrote, recorded and toured with jazz vocalist Gwyneth Herbert. Reviewing the show in London, The Guardian gushed that “Bevan took us on startling odysseys that suggested Erykah Badu, Joanna Newsom and Kate Bush spine-tinglingly joined”. More recently, she has been in L.A. co-writing with Grammy Award-winning producer John Shanks.
Talk To Strangers was entirely composed by Bevan over the past four years and recently mastered in San Francisco by the legendary George Horn, who has been cutting vinyl since the ‘60s for musicians including Paul Simon, Sly & The Family Stone, Bob Dylan and John Coltrane. If the album feels like a long time coming for an artist already established live, it’s been well worth the wait. Those deep roots have spawned something truly special.
Talk To Strangers is released 28th April on Navigator Records
The Machine, the debut single, released 10th March
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