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Taking to the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall stage recently to open for Rufus Wainwright, in whose band she was also performing, Krystle Warren is much more relaxed and confident than she was when Australia first got to see her, as part of a tribute to the music of English folk musician Nick Drake in November last year.

Having completed her tour of duty with Wainwright, she’s taking the opportunity to perform a couple of her own shows to spread the word on her latest album, Love Songs: A Time You May Embrace. The album – which she produced herself – is actually only the first half of a collection of songs she originally envisaged as a double album with 24 songs. “It was hard to break into two parts actually,” Warren admits, “but in the end I figured that was the best way to allow the listener to have enough time to kind of soak it up and not feel rushed.”

The fact that Warren doesn’t restrict herself to one particular style or genre, and certainly not feeling constrained to the simple singer/songwriter format – the album was recorded with her band The Faculty – means that she is a songwriter who allows the song to dictate the direction in which it wishes to go. “Let’s kick it off with [second track] Five Minutes Late,” she begins.

“With that one, while writing it I knew that I wanted it to have this kind of, you know, vaudeville, jazz, New Orleans style. So when it was written I handed it very quickly over to my friend Brad Cox, who did such a lovely job with the arrangements, and I just said to him, ‘This is gonna be vaudeville jazz.’ Some tunes just seem to already kinda have their personality there, as soon as they’ve been created, and that was one of them, for sure – it stuck out that way.

“[On the other hand], with The Clod & The Pebble, I’d had the music sitting around for a bit and it didn’t have the lyrics for it. I just knew I wanted something that had this kind of baroque feel to it, and lo and behold, that book of poetry, [William Blake’s] Songs Of Experience, fell in my lap. I thumbed [through] and there you are, The Clod & The Pebble, ‘Ah, yes!’ And it suddenly just made complete sense, why I wanted it to have this kind of very English baroque approach.

“The great fun about working with these songs is they just kind of tell me what they want, how they would like to be presented and treated. All I have to do is respect that.”

Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Warren discovered music early, courtesy her mother’s record collection. After an initial unsatisfactory foray into jazz, she headed to New York City and busked on the subway. It was in New York that she found the musicians that would become The Faculty, with whom she recorded her first album, Circles, in 2007. Something of a gypsy, she has since lived in Paris and San Francisco, but it was while performing in the UK that she got to perform on the Later With Jools Holland TV show in 2009 and became a part of the Way To Blue tribute, around the time she also met Rufus Wainwright and became part of his touring family.

“It’s just an honour all around,” she admits. “I’ve been a fan of Rufus since his first album came out back in ’98. I was in my late teens at that time and was just bowled over by him as I have for every recording he’s made since then, and even gush over him now as we’re working together.”

Krystle Warren will be playing the following shows:

Sunday 23 September – Factory Theatre, Sydney NSW
Tuesday 25 September – Lizottes, Kincumber NSW
Thursday 27 September – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne VIC
Saturday 29 September – Community Theatre, Byron Bay NSW

Michael Smith