Sheffield singer and Noisy Neighbour Nat beats her anxiety

Nat Johnson.
Nat Johnson.
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Contrary to the title of her latest album, Sheffield singer-songwriter,Nat Johnson is not Neighbour of the Year.

In fact, she is a noisy neighbour – rehearsing and playing the same track over and over again.

Nat says: “I’m not a good neighbour.

“I wrote the album in my house and the walls between us and our neighbour are pretty thin, so whenever I’m writing or rehearsing I know I can be heard.

“And when I’m writing, I’m playing the same bits over and over again, making tiny changes, and it must drive my neighbour mad.”

Decibel levels aside, however, Neighbour of the Year was a hard album to write.

She says: “Neighbour of the Year deals with the cycle of anxiety as I experience it. It was written throughout a particular period of time in which I became unwell due to anxiety, before eventually coming out the other side.

“I’m prone to occasional bouts of anxiety, so this happens every now and again and I know lots of people can relate to that.”

Just as life started to feel as if it was slipping out of control, she started to write.

Nat say: “As the year went downhill in ways I couldn’t have expected – a car accident and a family crisis among other things – I kept writing, consciously working through my thoughts during the act of songwriting.”

The result is seven songs, starting with Not Now, Horse. “That’s where I’m trying to build up my defences,” she says. “Then March, where I’m feeling more helpless, before the low point of I’ve Been Shot, which is how I feel at my worst.

“I Can’t See You deals with panic attacks and finding the will to mend myself.

“Things start to brighten with the title track, where I analyse things more bravely, then the sun really comes out with Dog, as I found strength at that time from taking some great walks in our lovely city’s green spaces.

“Finally there’s Shelter, in which I look back over that year in gratitude to the support of my husband and home.

“That cycle of songs is something I can look at and use to measure my mental state.”

n Nat Johnson will play The Greystones, Greystones, Sheffield, on Friday, February 6. For tickets, priced £7, see www.mygreystones.co.uk