Kate Jackson returns to Sheffield with her eyes on the Road

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Eight years since one of Sheffield’s favourite bands called it a day and their lead singer is finally back with her debut solo album.

Kate Jackson was one-fifth of indie-rockers The Long Blondes, who enjoyed three top-40 singles a decade ago, while seeing their two albums reach number one and number two in the UK indie chart.

However, after just five years the band were forced to call it a day when guitarist Dorian Cox suffered a stroke – “It’s still quite hard to think about what happened,” admits Kate.

Kate has since moved to Italy, returned and spent time working as a visual artist, although she admits she always had a burning ambition to put her record out – an ambition she is realising with the release of British Road Movies.

“I did start writing this album after Long Blondes split up, but for various reasons, didn’t get to finish it,” she says.

“In the meantime, I met someone and ended up moving to Rome for four years and didn’t really do any music.

“I was always determined to put this record out, but there are many issues when you are in a different country and without any help – no label, management, etc.”

Her return to England two years ago was the push she needed to get it done.

“Even though some of the songs are from a while back, they don’t feel old to me,” she says, “Particularly because I haven’t played them with the band.

“Playing them with the band is massively different – it brings them a new life.”

Revealing her love of art, the 10 songs were conceived as ‘cinematic starting points, movie titles with lyrical story-boards’.

The 36-year-old paints scenes and tells stories, paying homage to the colour, weather and architecture seen from every car windscreen.

“There’s a lot of different influences and musical styles on the record,” she says.

“Pop is a big influence in a old-fashioned way – my influences are late 1970s, early 80s.”

It is something she says she has in common with friend and writing partner Bernard Butler.

She specifically asked to work with the former Suede guitarist, who she met backstage when he and the Long Blondes shared a record label.

Kate, who moved home to Suffolk on her return from Italy, but admits she ‘really misses’ Sheffield, says: “These songs come from different places and I love that about it.

“We’d chat about artists and then write a song - there’s Blondie, Neil Young, David Bowie on there. The End of Reason, the opening track on the album, was written after we were talking about the Pet Shop Boys.

“The common sound is Bernard’s guitar and my vocals.”

n British Road Movies is released on Friday, May 20. Kate plays The Picture House Social, on Abbeydale Road, Sheffield, on Sunday, June 5. Visit www.the-plug.com for tickets, priced £8.