IN more than 20 years of running his own record label and touring operation, Paul Carrack knows more than most about taking responsibility for his own career.

So when lockdown cast its unwelcome shadow on the music business, one of Britain’s most distinguished and soulful singer-songwriters was ready with his response.

The result was One On One, his 18th solo studio album. In creating it from his home studio base, Paul not only wrote, played and recorded the whole thing, but trusting his instincts, even mixed the album himself.

Now fans will get the chance to hear those songs performed live for the first time as Paul finally heads out on the road on his apprpriately named Good and Ready tour including a date at King George’s Hall Blackburn tomorrow night.

“I haven’t let the time go to waste,” said Paul with a smile, sitting in the home studio – once a garage – where he made One On One. Some other artists’ creativity and resourcefulness came to a complete standstill during the great non-year of 2020, but not his.

“Basically we should have been on the road throughout 2020,” he recalls, “so January, February, March, everything was going great. The shows were selling out and we were due to go to Europe, the USA and Australia.

“By mid March, I started to get the vibe that things were going to be shutting down, and we thought it would probably be only a couple of months, so we rescheduled a lot of the shows. It soon became apparent that the situation wasn’t going to change any time soon.

“I started going into the studio, initially to keep my chops ticking over, but I found that it also helped to keep my mind occupied, and acted as a kind of therapy at what was a very anxious time.”

Talk about making a virtue out of a problem. Only one of these songs existed even in demo form beforehand; Paul conjured all the rest during lockdown.

One On One is a truly live-sounding album, which is all the more remarkable when you remember that Paul is the band, and was often working completely on his own.

“I’ve done a lot of recording in here over the years, when it was freezing cold in the winter, and boiling hot in the summer,” he said. “But seven, eight years ago, we decided to do a number on the studio, and make it into a really nice space to work. Thank goodness I did. It was probably the best thing I’ve ever done.

“There’s a number of ways of making a record,” he adds, “but doing it by myself, I think I was compelled to do things my way. I can be easily swayed in a collaborative situation. I’ll often take people’s opinion stronger than my own. So, in a way I think it has been good to just take it the whole way, because I think it does have an individual stamp on it.

“The songs are fairly conventional, but the playing is a little bit unconventional. I am totally self taught and predominantly a keyboard player but I can play a little bit of everything although my approach to playing bass, for example, is probably a little different to how a ‘proper’ bass player would approach a song.

“Hopefully this adds to the individuality. There’s a lot of young, modern guys who can programme a track really quickly. For me, it’s still a slow, organic process. A song may start with a little idea that you develop, and you start to put instruments on it. But you’re constantly having to change as it evolves.’

“Let’s say, if you put down a keyboard, and a vocal, and then you add a bass, and a guitar, then you’ll think, ‘Well, obviously, the piano’s playing too much now...’ So how they evolve is a bit weird, but we get there in the end and I’m thinking in terms of them being played by a band.”

There’s a strong case for saying that the results are the most soulful record Paul’s made in many a moon, almost back to where he came in during the 1970s.

“You might be right,” he says. “The sound of the record is warm, I think, and engaging, and nourishing. There’s two ballads on there, but the rest of it is surprisingly upbeat. I think that’s maybe because we were mid-tour when the touring was shut down but I was still in a kind of ‘live’ mode.”

As a degree of normality returns, it’s back to the road, where some of these songs will take the touring test and make the acquaintance of live audiences.

“There’s certain songs we always have in the set, of course such as How Long, and Tempted,” he reflects. “I love singing those songs and I love the response, but we’ve got a massive repertoire, because these guys have been with me for over 20 years now. So we’ll get together and see which of these are going to fly.”

Paul Carrack, King George's Hall, Blackburn, Friday, January 21 ( and Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Friday, January 28 (