FOR Eliza Doolittle, the last year or so has been something of a learning curve.
The singer has been through the ringer a little – emotionally speaking – and she said it had taught her a lot about herself and what she wants in life.
It has also helped her develop as an artist, she said, and has directly influenced the material on her forthcoming album In Your Hands.
“I feel like I’ve lived a little bit since the last album. As much as I thought I knew stuff I feel now like I didn’t know anything,” Eliza told the Mail.
When she burst onto the scene with her self-titled first album 2010, it was to critical acclaim.
Chirpy pop songs such as Skinny Genes and Pack Up, all performed with a trademark Camden sound, earned her the title of the new Lily Allen, and it is easy to see why. Those who recall Lily’s first album Alright, Still, released when she was a similar age to Eliza, could not fail to compare the poppy sounds of the two.
But after a few years of low-key touring and writing, she has returned with a new, more mature sound for her second album, which may stem some of the comparisons.
“I hope people will be surprised by this album. I have really drawn on the things I’ve been through and taken inspiration from within, rather than looking outwards at everything as I used to. It’s hard for me to say I’ve matured, but I have grown as a human as well as an artist,” she said.
Now 25, the Londoner has come a long way since she was first signed at 16.
If her latest tracks are anything to go by, she has become much more reflective and focused – something she puts down to heartbreak.
Although she has not revealed any details about the man behind the heartbreak, it is clear to see through her music that the experience had a profound effect on her young heart.
She said: “My heart has been hurting and mending and healing, and then hurting again. I have been on a rollercoaster, but I have learned so much, not just about heartbreak, but about myself and life in general, as well as how I want to live in the future.”
Eliza threw herself into her work after the break-up, writing more than 100 songs to document the way she was feeling.
She moved out to Los Angeles for three months, where she had chance to lock herself away and focus on her work while she was recovering.
She said she had been keen to document every emotion she was going through in her writing, and worked every day to produce material.
The 13 songs on In Your Hands represent the all-too-familiar emotions which everyone goes through following a break-up, swinging from desperation to defiance and covering everything in between.
In Your Hands is the song which Eliza said spoke the most about how she had been feeling at the time.
“It makes complete sense. I was at my most vulnerable when I wrote it,” she said.
Songs such as Team Player and Don’t Call it Love also offer a direct line to the way she was feeling, she said, with one representing the positive side of her emotions and the other showing the less happy aspect of the time.
“It’s so important for me to remember that. When I’m feeling happy I don’t remember what it’s like to feel bad, and it’s important to think about it so I can live the best I can.
“The whole album is a journey.”
It seems needless to point out that this album is Eliza Doolittle laid bare, as far as the artist is concerned.
Yet despite feeling slightly scared about the response to sharing her innermost feelings, she told the Mail that she simply hoped people would like it.
“This album you’re hearing has a little piece of me in it. I do feel vulnerable because I am spilling out so much and it’s all out in the open, but I’m looking forward to everyone hearing it. The album excites me, and I hope everyone likes it,” she said.
If the first single from the album is anything to go by, that should not be too much of a problem.
Big When I was Little was released at the end of July and was the perfect summer pop song. Tinged with nostalgia, it’s sunshine sound speaks to everyone who grew up in the nineties and early noughties.
Let it Rain will be the next release, due out next month at the same time as the album.
All the songs have been written with performance in mind – something which Eliza said helped whittle down the endless material she created for the album.
She added: “Some of them have really been spurred on by imagining singing them on stage or in the theatre. It changes it in my mind.
“If I can imagine it, that’s how I know it can be on the album.”
The proof of the pudding will come later in the year, when she embarks on ‘a small tour’ with the new album.
A further tour will follow next year, she said. In the meantime, all her efforts are going into promoting the new album.
Eliza is clearly proud of the work she has done for In Your Hands, and said she was now ready for it to go out into the world.
“The songs are like my babies, and I’m so excited that they are finally going to be heard. No matter what happens, I am proud of them. I am just going to do my best and keep going,”she said.
Her tenacious attitude has got her this far, and combined with her confidence, it can’t fail to continue bringing success.