Celebrity Interview: Louise is the comeback queen
She shot to fame in girlband Eternal, achieved huge solo success, then, after taking time out to raise her boys, wowed on the Strictly stage. Heading to Cambridge on her comeback tour, Louise Redknapp talks ‘Heavy Love’ with fellow Louise (Cummings). . .
When Louise Redknapp decided to return to her musical roots after an almost 20 year hiatus, she pondered long and hard over what her comeback persona should be.
“I knew I had two ways to go on this album; I could put on a pretty dress and do nice mid-tempo songs, or just think ‘I’m going to go for it and do what I want to do!’” she asserts.
Judging from the racy video to her new single Stretch, in which she sizzles in cut-out leotard and vertiginous boots, whilst writhing with a topless male model, she opted for the latter. “Well, there’s no reason why somebody of my age shouldn’t be able to go out there and still be sexy, have fun and do all the things that they used to do!” she smiles.
At 44, the mum-of-two, who took a career break to raise sons Charlie, 15, and Beau, 10, before returning to the limelight on Strictly Come Dancing, is oozing with confidence, delighted that she’s been given a second chance to pursue her first love; music.
Louise’s new album Heavy Love – her first in 19 years - is due for release on January 18, and she’ll be heading out on a UK tour in March.
Chatting ahead of the release, she’s genuinely excited about unveiling her new sound to the world (though on the day of our interview, she’s full of cold - “Sorry, I’m a little bit fluey,” she rasps).
“I really can’t wait for the album to come out. It’s been a long time in the making, so now I just want to let people hear it, rather than just talk about it!”
As the title suggests, Heavy Love was influenced by the heart-breaking collapse of the singer’s marriage to footballer Jamie after nearly two decades. “Making the album has been a real emotional and honest process for me. It’s completely from the heart,” she confides. “I think everybody can appreciate that sometimes love can be a great thing, but can also give you a really heavy heart, so I wanted an album I felt people could empathise with and understand.”
With her divorce attracting unwanted press attention, penning meaningful lyrics also proved incredibly cathartic. “I think for the first time in five albums I’ve got something to really say and put down on paper, so yes I do thing that helped. Music is my absolute love and joy so when I go on stage for that hour I forget about everything else that is going on in my life.”
Recorded in London, LA and Sweden over 18 months, Heavy Love features collaborations with music luminaries Clean Bandit, Jojo, RAYE, Eg White, Sinead Harnett and Karen Poole.
And though there’s soul-searching tracks on there, Louise is keen to point out it’s not all ‘sad ballads’, with singles like feisty anthem Hammer and tropical tune Lead Me On, filmed on a beach in Portugal. “It’s quite an upbeat album. It’s got an old school funk feel to it, a bit souly, some R&B, and gospel-inspired songs. I’m super proud of it,” she beams.
Louise’s first release, the aforementioned sassy number, Stretch, has already proved popular, the video shooting to Number 1 on the iTunes video chart. Looking as incredible performing as she did in her Eternal days (when she was voted FHMs’s Sexiest Woman in the World), Louise must have been hitting the gym hard?
“Oh no, I’m useless in the gym!” she giggles. “Like any other woman I have good weeks when I’m really healthy and then I have weeks when I pick at the kids’ leftover food - and literally the weight can change from week to week.”
Sons Charlie and Beau watch most of their mum’s performances, but Louise admits her more smouldering routines are met with teenage eye rolls. “The older one is a bit like ‘Well, this is embarrassing’, but it goes over the younger one’s head. At the end of the day, I’m their mum and as long as I’m home doing what they need, the other stuff is just there. But they are super proud and love coming to the music gigs.”
Louise’s 11-date tour kicks off in Southampton and heads to Cambridge on March 25. Fans can expect a medley of Eternal favourites, material from the new album and ‘a few little surprises thrown in for good measure’. “I’ve got a wicked band too, so it’ll be a hundred per cent live and a real party!” Louise enthuses. “I think it’s going to be the best show I’ve ever done, without a shadow of a doubt.”
Talking of putting on a show, the singer has been busy touring in the Dolly Parton story, 9 to 5 The Musical. And prior to that proved an accomplished dancer, waltzing all the way to the finals of Strictly with Kevin Clifton. Much was written about her ‘reinvention’, as she flourished week-on-week on the dance floor, but she’s quick to dismiss the notion. “It’s so weird because I did the show three years ago and it feels irrelevant now. The press constantly wrote things about me ‘rediscovering myself’, but it was more the fact that I really enjoyed being back at work, getting up each day, having a purpose and doing something I loved,” she asserts.
Back on the road with her band, her voice as silky smooth and emotive as ever, Louise is clearly in a happy place right now – and second time round, success feels so much sweeter. “The nice thing is I know what to expect. I know how hard the industry is and how difficult it is to succeed, so it comes with an appreciation when everything goes right. And I’m also appreciative of having the opportunity to get out there and tour again. I can’t wait!”
See Louise Redknapp at Cambridge Junction, March 25. Visit junction.co.uk for tickets
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