If sharing what I’ve gone through helps somebody else, my job’s done says Thetford Forest bound singer Rae Morris

Rae Morris, opening for Tom Odell at Thetford Forest tonight

Rae Morris, opening for Tom Odell at Thetford Forest tonight - Credit: Archant

Entertainment writer Wayne Savage speaks to singer-songwriter Rae Morris, supporting Tom Odell at Thetford Forest later today.

Tom Odell rounds off this year's Thetford Forest concert series. Photo: Andrew Whitton

Tom Odell rounds off this year's Thetford Forest concert series. Photo: Andrew Whitton - Credit: Archant

It’s natural for people to want to know the context, the meaning, behind your songs, says Morris as we discuss her critically-acclaimed and aptly-named debut album, Unguarded ? shaped by her two-year relationship with fellow Blackpool singer-songwriter Karima Francis.

Seeing her on an episode of Later... With Jools Holland, Morris first met Francis after a small pub gig ? sparking a professional, then personal, partnership.

The singer-songwriter has spoken in other interviews about how Francis helped her with her writing, admitting a lot of her early songs were about exploring that experience, those feelings, for the first time.

“I actually haven’t been asked about it (the relationship) very much... For me it was very significant, regardless of sexuality... It was very important in teaching me things ? musically as well as (about) life in general. For me it was very important and I talk about it in a way that I would any relationship,” she says.

Morris, who is in the early stages of penning the follow-up to her debut album Unguarded

Morris, who is in the early stages of penning the follow-up to her debut album Unguarded - Credit: Archant

The currently-single Morris doesn’t label herself as gay, straight or bi.

Only 22, she’s still learning about herself. But it was important for her to be very honest when writing. She wanted people to know she was being herself and documenting the emotions you go through when you’re 17-18 and just starting to understand life and yourself.

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“I’m a music fan; I want to know what that person’s talking about... I don’t think (that’s the case) any more so these days than it has been in the past with famous Hollywood actresses and actors. You want to know the details and we’ve always been very inquisitive about the lives of people, so it’s just a very human thing.

“I don’t get annoyed (when people ask about the relationship). I find it great, because if I give any young girl or boy out there ? who feel like they’re going through something that’s slightly confusing and weird ? any kind of hope that it’s not weird, and it’s totally fine, then that’s my job done.”

Record labels started showing an interest in Morris ? one of the BBC’s Music Sound Of 2015’s featured artists ? when she just 17.

Making a name for herself on Blackpool, Lancaster and Preston’s pub and open-mic circuits, she chose Atlantic when she was 18 because they “would take it slow” and “didn’t blow any smoke up her a**e”.

She’s recorded with the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Clean Bandit and Tom Odell. She’s opening for the latter ? who covered John Lennon’s Real Love for John Lewis’s 2014 Christmas advert ? at Thetford Forest tonight.

“I first supported Tom a couple of years ago on one of his UK tours and we decided at the last minute to play one of my songs, Grow, together at a Nottingham show. “It went down so well and we enjoyed it (so) we recorded it for the deluxe version of my album. He’s a good friend, actually... I’ve never toured with somebody I don’t like, which is handy,” laughs Morris, who’s spent the last month or so zipping between Holland, Germany and Norway.

“I’ve actually played very few outdoor gigs, so it’s going to be a novelty; I’m looking forward to it.”

Unguarded, which includes the singles Closer and Under the Shadows, made the Top 10 in the UK album charts on its recent release.

She’s very proud of it and is excited to spend the summer playing her songs to more people.

“I felt it (the album) was everything I ever dreamed. That people would want to listen to it and that I’d hear the songs on the radio as well was a real bonus...,” says Morris, laughing about how it’s all a far cry from her waitressing days at Blackpool Football Club when she was 13.

“I spent most of my first album experiencing first things; everything was very new. (Now) it’s the start of a new era, I guess ? a new learning chapter. I’ve started writing again, looking towards another album.”

Still growing as a professional singer-songwriter, Morris feels she knows a bit more second time around. Now she gets to approach things with a slightly more concentrated view and can be a little more specific about what she does and doesn’t like. She admits she’s got a lot more to learn but it’s an amazing position to be in at the moment.

Given people’s reaction to Unguarded, Morris doesn’t feel she has to worry too much about trying to please people with her follow-up.

“I just want to give people more. I’m so excited to use this opportunity to push myself as well as try things out that I’ve never done before; learn more about my craft and songwriting.

“I’m just at the very beginning of thinking about it (her second album). I have no actual plan yet, but what I’m liking is that I don’t have any boundaries or specific point to make.

“On my debut album I was very wary of showing people who I was. That was the whole premise of it really ? to make sure I put across my message and personality, so people would understand from the very beginning ? and I think I’ve done that now.

“The ground has been set and everybody knows who I am. I’m excited to push the boundaries ? now I can be a little bit crazier.”