Not many popular singers or musicians can admit to have been on the music scene since 1949, and even fewer can release an album in 2013 that sounds as fresh and contemporary than anything around at the moment, yet international music star Petula Clark has achieved just that with her new album Lost In You.
Fans shouldn’t be surprised; Petula has seen more musical changes than most artists. Her million-selling release Downtown reached the top of the charts in several countries as Beatlemania rocked the world in 1964. A very different release compared to her UK Chart-topper of five years previous Sailor where musical tastes were still heavily influenced by the music of the post-war years.
‘It’s never a conscious thing;’ says Petula, ‘I never sit down and think I’ve got to move with the times. I just live for the day and if the music comes out sounding different or contemporary that’s just the way it is.’
Her latest album Lost in You opens with the beautiful ambiance of Cut Copy Me, a release which has surprised many of Petula’s fans and she couldn’t be happier: ‘That was the first song we’d done actually. My producer John Owen Williams said: "Why don’t we go into the studio and see what happens?" I just went up and did it and its come out very well. It is contemporary but I’m not trying to sound like someone else, they haven’t fooled around with my voice, it’s that track which was the driving force to do this CD. We just got together with some young writers and co-wrote most of them and of course we did some covers including Downtown…”
There’s almost a giggle in Petula’s voice as she mentions Downtown, but why return to it I ask… ‘That was exactly my reaction when John suggested we did it.’ She says, ‘I said "Why?" And then I said "No!" I went to Paris and when I came back a couple of days later he said "Have a listen to this!" He put the track on which was very beautiful but it had no melody, so I didn't know what it was. I said, "What is that?" and he said it’s "Downtown!"’
‘It was the most amazing experience, because I don’t know how many times I’ve sung Downtown over the years, I thought I knew it and suddenly I was singing the song in a different tempo with a whole different feel to it. I was like singing a brand new song, I find that very interesting.’
Petula also returned to her Welsh roots for another song, the autobiographical Reflections, which recalls her time growing up in Abercanaid when she was a child. ‘There’s a reference to Bach which means little and I wrote the lyric. John said to me why don’t you do something autobiographical and then I thought why don’t I just take myself back to Wales, that’s what it’s all about. I’m quite pleased with that track it’s very different to everything else on the CD.’
Petula will be returning to Wales later this year when her UK tour brings her to St David’s Hall on October 14, ‘I’m really looking forward to that’ she says with excitement. Will she get time to visit some of her old homeland? “That’s the problem will I have time?’ she sighs, before continuing more hopefully ‘I’ll be off down the valleys and maybe drop in to Abercanaid or Merthyr Tydfil, that trip from Cardiff down to Merthyr is one of my favourite things in the World.’
- Andy Howells interview with Petula Clark was published in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide on March 1 2013 and can be currently viewed on The South Wales Argus Website.