Charlotte Church wanted “something good to go back to America with,” and the classically trained British singer — a force since her adolescence — thinks she has it with “One & Two,” her first U.S. release in a decade.
The nine-song set, due March 12, sports songs from the first two of five EPs Church is in the midst of creating; the first came out during September in the U.K. It also celebrates Church’s new status as an independent artist, with her own label, Alligator Wine, her own home studio in Cardiff, Wales, and creative collective that includes boyfriend Jonathan Powell and Jamie Neasom.
Listen to “One & Two” album cut “Glitterbombed”:
“I love this new stuff I’m doing, and this feels more comfortable and more creative to me than anything I’ve done before,” Church tells Billboard. “It started with me being completely disillusioned and thinking, ‘Oh, Christ, I’m not gonna do this again,’ even though I love singing and I will sing every day for the rest of my life. But I didn’t know if I could carry on with the rest of the bulls***, quite frankly, that comes along with it. But I just couldn’t keep away from it. It’s in my blood.”
Church says she reached a point in 2006 where she “just had enough of working” after five albums. She parted ways with Sony Music and hoped “to go and do some normal stuff with friends and fight with my parents and be a reasonable teenager.” The interim saw her launch her own TV variety program, the award-winning “The Charlotte Church Show,” became a patron of the Topsy Foundation UK charity, act on stage (“Over the Rainbow”) and in the movies (“I’ll Be There”), and give birth to two children (daughter Ruby, now five years old, and son Dexter, three) with Welsh rugby star Gavin Hensen. She also endured “quite a tempestuous relationship” with the British tabloid media during that time.
Church did release a “comeback” album, “Back to Scratch,” during 2010 in the U.K. only but subsequently terminated her deal with Power Amp Music.
“Even though I wasn’t in a traditional record label deal and had more creative control, I didn’t have total (control),” Church notes, “and if you’re going to do anything of artists worth I think you have to really have the majority of the creative control.”
Having that with her EP series, she says, allowed Church and her team “to go wild. We started to create things that were like, ‘Wow, we would totally listen to this if it was another band!’ ” And, Church adds, the creative spigot has yet to run dry. “At the start we just put down loads and loads of material and fine-tuned it all and messed about with loads of different productions styles…and EP ‘One’ came out of that. We thought EP ‘Two’ would come from the huge bulk of material we’d stored up, but that didn’t happen — lots of new songs came to the forefront, and it’s just kept coming, which is amazing.”
Church hopes to have the third EP out “within the next year” but says she has “no particular timetable.” Meanwhile, “One & Two’s” release will bring her back to the U.S. for a handful of live shows in March, including some appearances at the South By Southwest Music + Media Conference and, Church hopes, more dates later this year.
“I’d love to, but I wanted to come back out a little bit tentatively,” she explains. “I’m not an egomaniac who’s thinking I can just walk back into the scene. I’ve been gone awhile, so I want to see how it goes down and if people are interested and into it. If so, I’d love to give a great deal of my time and energy to performing all over America again, because I loved it the first time around. So I’m hopeful but… am being cautious about it.”