Mercury-nominated singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams has announced that she will release a ‘soundtrack album’ to a brand new novel by best-selling author Laura Barnett, that follows the life of a fictional singer. Greatest Hits, the hotly-anticipated follow-up to Barnett’s novel The Versions of Us, will be published on 15th June 2017 alongside the brand new album by Kathryn Williams – Songs from the Novel Greatest Hits, which will be released the following day. The original songs are written by Kathryn Williams, with lyrics by Laura Barnett and Kathryn Williams, and will be released through One Little Indian. Listen to Common Ground below:
Kathryn Williams on Common Ground: “Common Ground was the first of two songs we worked on together for the project. I had been doing a gig in London and agreed to meet and stay with Laura though we had never met before. So I packed my gear up after the show and drove to her house late at night. The next morning we went up to her writing room. There was the manuscript and we talked tentatively about how and what we could do.
“Laura handed me the lyrics for Common Ground and talked about the lead character Cass. This was the first song Cass was proud of. It dealt with a narrative in the book where her mother leaves her as a child. I got out my guitar and started feeling my way through the lyrics, reworking parts. Laura was very open for me to move and shift things. It started to form and I thought I would just jump in and start singing. What a strange unknowing feeling. As I sang, I felt it, I felt the presence of Cass. I closed my eyes and sang and sang, and when I opened my eyes Laura was sat in front of me crying. I started cying too. It was such a gift, to both be so open. She felt as if the songs from her novel were coming to life and I felt that too. From that moment we both knew that the project was possible. The follow-up process of recording these songs and giving them a place in time and an artist’s arc of Cass’ career was the next obstacle. Luckily having Romeo Stodart producing was another brilliant choice. He totally got what we were trying to do”.
The novel Greatest Hits tells the story of Cass Williams, a fictional musical artist who enjoyed huge success from the early ’70s, only to retire mysteriously at the height of her fame. Two decades later, she is spending a single day in her recording studio, picking out tracks for a very personal Greatest Hits album. Each chapter of Greatest Hits opens with one of these songs and takes the reader back through Cass’s life, from her childhood, through her earliest days as a singer, to the terrible crisis that caused her to flee her own life. The accompanying album by Kathryn Williams brings each song chosen for Cass’s Greatest Hits record to life, with every track written and recorded in the style of the corresponding era.
Williams isn’t new to unlikely collaborations. The prolific musician has previously worked and toured with Ed Harcourt, John Martyn, Chris Difford (Squeeze), Bombay Bicycle Club, David Gray, Ray Lamontagne, and made two further albums as a member of bands The Crayonettes and The Pond. Now she has teamed up with author Laura Barnett to create something totally distinctive and inspiring.
Talking about the project, the respected singer said: “After making my album Hypoxia inspired by The Bell Jar (which was born out of a commission to celebrate Sylvia Plath) I didn’t think that I would be collaborating with another author so soon – and a living one to boot!
“I got a call from Laura after she had heard me on Cerys Matthews’ BBC6Music show talking about Hypoxia. She asked me if I was up for working on a parallel project to bring her fictional songwriter’s songs to life. Since then, we have co-written a group of 16 songs, cried, laughed and become close friends. It has been a joyous project of immersing ourselves into the character, the ups and downs of her career and her personal life.”
Laura Barnett added: “From the very earliest moment of coming up with the idea for Greatest Hits, it was clear to me that I wanted my character’s musical output to have a life beyond the page. I’ve been a fan of Kathryn’s music for years, and am so thrilled to be working with her – she’s an absolute magician, and I’m so excited about the creative possibilities posed by drawing literature and music together in this way.
“I’m also so grateful to all the booksellers – Waterstones, WH Smith, and all the amazing independents – who’ve been so supportive of The Versions of Us. I can’t wait to introduce my new novel to them, to readers, and to listeners!”
Read more about the novel Greatest Hits here: http://www.laura-barnett.co.uk/greatest-hits/