Goodbye 2011......

.....and good riddance? From talking to the majority of my friends and indeed family, 2011 has been an incredibly challenging year which most of us are glad to see the back of! It always saddens me to hear and/or say things like this myself. I try to view every year as a gift with new horizons and opportunities. By the time I'd reached July in a state of absolute mental and physical exhaustion, I'd had enough, and that was before the enforced incarceration due to various pregnancy complications! However saying all that, there have been some rather brilliant musical highlights which I thought I'd share with you.

One of my favourite highlights was the photo shoot John (Milton - long suffering friend and photographer/designer) and I completed at the Roman Baths, in Bath, earlier in the year. We came out with some stunning images for the new album and felt truly honoured to be able to photograph in such a beautiful location. I'd spent the previous months researching Roman fashion and finding the props to re create an image from the Villa d'Arianna in Stabia, near Pompeii and I'm so pleased with the results. The album won't be out until later in 2012 (gives me a chance to have a baby, get it mixed, mastered, oh and write a book!!!) but I thought I'd post one of the images up here so you can get a taste of what's to come in 2012. It's all change, in a by good way!

I was also lucky enough to go back and play the first ever unplugged modern day singer/songwriter gig at the Baths in April and to be able to film it. That footage is now up on You Tube if you haven't seen it already and features a couple of tracks from the forthcoming album, all be it acoustically. The acoustics at the Bath, despite the pouring rain, were amazing, I've never had such good sound!

From late May to July the band and I start work on the songs for the album, running through ideas and initial arrangements. We also had a chance to run through our set for Guilfest which was an incredibly fun gig. It was so nice to be back after a long break and the crowd was great.

Then it was 14 days straight in the studio for the new album with some of the most talented musicians I've ever had the pleasure of working with. Luckily they were also good at helping me retain my sanity, especially when I discovered I was expecting baby #2!! It was an exhausting, but very productive time, and I got to work with Patch Hannan, the drummer from one of my all time favourite bands 'The Sundays'!

Pregnancy complications meant that from the end of July I've been on enforced rest, but in retrospect, it's actually been good to have a bit of a break and to go back over what we recorded in July. In December I was able, with a little help, to make a few days back in the studio to review and do some more recording which has been fantastic. Jez and I have revamped quite a few songs and it's sounding better than ever. We also welcomed the wonderful Jali Fily Cissokho in to the studio to put some Kora on a few tracks. All very good stuff.

So with a pretty eventual year over, what's next? Baby #2 should be making an appearance in March so they'll be a little settling down time, but 2012 will see the new album finished, mixed and mastered, ready to unleash on the world late September, early October. The artwork is ready and I'm in the middle of writing the book to accompany it while trying to rest. There will of course also be a tour, but a very different kind of tour....I shall leave you with that thought....Here's to 2012!

Anna x