Following up on her critically acclaimed third studio album More Sinner Than Saint, the Black Country’s Rebecca Downes announces the release of her fourth studio album, Stripped Back, on her own label, Mad Hat Records on 9 April 2021.
Recorded during lockdown with Steve Birkett, they re-worked six tracks from More Sinner Than Saint & four from Believe added two more from the plethora of new songs they already had and Stripped Back was born.
Lockdown has hit the music industry hard and at the time of writing, we are only just seeing the first signs of a return to live performances. Rebecca performed a storming set at Planet Rock’s Winters End on 1 March 2020 but since then, like many others, she has been limited to online streamed gigs, mostly from home, (although the full band did manage a superb show at the excellent Birmingham Streams venue).
Without the prospect of a tour to promote it, a full new studio album had to be put on hold, but Rebecca and co-writer Steve Birkett saw an opportunity to use the time to revisit and reimagine some of their most popular tracks. The result is Stripped Back, a new studio album that includes a fascinating re-working of six tracks from More Sinner Than Saint and four from the second studio album Believe.
Steve and Rebecca are prolific songwriters and in the aftermath of More Sinner Than Saint they had over 20 songs that had not made the cut for that album, most because they simply did not ‘fit’. The feel and mood of Stripped Back created the scope to include two of these previously unreleased tracks, so Blues For Us (to be released as a single on 12 March 2021) and Washing All Over My Heart make their deserved debuts here.
And lockdown presented the opportunity for a different approach to the recording process. Steve, a talented multi-instrumentalist, undertook the vast bulk of the playing and recording, as well as the arrangement, production and engineering. The musicians who make up the gigging band – Neil Ablard, Nigel Darvill, Aiden Goldstraw and Vince Yarrington – contributed ‘remotely’ to the track Hurts, but the rest of the music is Steve’s. And, keeping it in the family, the album was mixed and mastered by his son, Steve Birkett Jnr. Even three of the images that are used on the album artwork were shot remotely by Adam Kennedy (the fourth is by Rebecca herself).
The end product is a laid-back, yet vibrant album that shows a range and depth to Rebecca’s voice that will be a surprise to those not familiar with all her work whilst at the same time showing off the full scope of Steve’s instrumental and vocal skills. All-in-all it shows that lockdown did not mean ‘freeze frame’ to this talented duo.
Pre-sale link: