McCool calm and collected

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The singer-songwriter with probably the coolest name in music is bubbling with excitement.

Natalie McCool may have won a national songwriting competition judged by Coldplay frontman Chris Martin. collaborated with Suede legend Bernard Butler and enjoyed a one-to-one songwriting session with Sir Paul McCartney – but now she is heading out on her first solo headline tour on the back of her second album.

The Great Unknown comes out next week before the 28-year-old, from Merseyside, hits the road, including a show at The Rocking Chair in Sheffield on Saturday, September 17.

“I can’t wait to play the album live,” she says.

“There’s quite a few songs we haven’t put online at all, so it will be cool to play those live.

“For people who already know the stuff, it’s nice for them to hear something new, especially live.”

Natalie enjoyed a stellar start to her career, working with Sir Paul while at university and winning the competition.

“I got some really good feedback from that, when I was starting out, and it was a really good thing to do, but I have written two albums from then on,” she says, keen to look forward rather than back.

“To see where I am now, I have come a long way.”

Looking back though, she collaborated with Butler on her self-titled debut album which was released in 2013 to great reviews.

“My first album was grown up and quite mature,” she says. “The songwriting certainly sounded like that to me.”

However, her new album is more an unknown quantity, as a more mature Miss McCool admits she does not know what the future holds.

“This one is quite raw, with more emotion than the first – I was dealing with lots of personal issues,” she admits, without elaborating.

“I feel all the songs are deep and come from a really deep place.

“I am really proud of it. There’s a bit of pop on there’s a bit of indie, a bit of alternative, I play guitar on it – it’s a bit of everything.

“There’s something there for everyone.”

And Natalie said she hopes it will help her “build on everything I have done already”.

She says: “I hope the album will do well and hopefully I’ll be playing bigger venues before more and more people.”

As she prepares for her first headline tour, Natalie says she is a strong believer in getting out and performing – to the extent of staging her own “living room tour” playing for fans.

“I did a living room tour off my own back and that was really cool,” she says.

“I went to places I’ve never been before, playing in people’s front rooms. It’s a really good way of getting that local support.”

And even with the rise of social media allowing fans better access to celebrities and musicians than ever before, the Twitter fan – @NatalieMcCool – still believes nothing beats seeing them live.

“It’s real life,” she says, “it’s about actually being there, which is important.”

The Great Unknown is released on Friday, September 9.

Natalie McCool plays The Rocking Chair, Sheffield city centre, on Saturday, September 17. For tickets, priced from £5, see www.rockingchairbar.co.uk

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