It’s been four years since the release of Cherry Ghost’s last album but Simon Aldred, who fronts the loose collective, has hardly been quiet during this period.
The Bolton singer-songwriter broke onto the scene in 2007 with People Help The People, a track that went on to win an Ivor Novello Award in 2008, and which was taken back into the charts in 2010 by Birdy (“She did an admirable job,” says Aldred diplomatically).
These credentials helped to build his reputation as a songwriter and over the last few years he’s co-written tracks with the likes of Sam Smith and Kwabs. When asked to nominate the song of which he’s particularly proud he selects Smith’s Leave Your Lover. “It is pretty good,” he notes.
Between albums he also released a set of well-received post-midnight electronic love songs under the Out Cold guise. The material was so different from the soulful Americana associated with Cherry Ghost that he thought, “it would have been too confusing” to release it under that brand, “like Marks & Spencer starting to sell sex toys or something!”
Both extra curricular activities have helped to inform third album Herd Runners, a collection of widescreen North Western country soul that occupies similar territory to Richard Hawley and Elbow. “I’ve learnt that I can write songs much quicker than I once thought,” he observes of the experiences. “I did a song a week for this album and was pretty strict with my schedule.”
The American theme isn’t restricted to the music but, despite being written in Manchester, also informs lyrics that lament Sacramento being “half the city / since you took that job two states away” (Sacramento) and a lost “faith in Hollywood” (My Lover Lies Under). The former, he notes, “is based on a book I read about [short story writer] Raymond Carver’s wife Mary Ann and their correspondence together when living apart.”
It’s an observational quality that goes hand in hand with a conscious decision to make the lyrics, “less bleak than previous releases. I wanted there to be a more old skool, straightforward innocence to the writing.”
He’ll be bringing some of this innocence and widescreen warmth to the Brudenell Social Club on June 21 where the audience can, “expect a good old romp through the albums I’ve made. They will be pretty understated versions of the songs but it seems to work well in smaller venues.”
June 21, Brudenell Social Club, Queens Road, Leeds, 7.30pm, £15. http://www.brudenellsocialclub.co.uk/whats-on/cherry-ghost1/