It is almost two years to the day since I last saw Leddra Chapman at Norwich Arts Centre. She had just finished her second EP, 'The Crowds and the Cocktails', and although it was not yet officially available to download, we were able to buy physical copies that night. The debut album, 'Telling Tales' had been released three years earlier, and had received airplay by Terry Wogan on BBC Radio 2, especially the two singles, 'Story' and 'Summer Song'. The Independent had described her soprano voice as 'pitch-perfect acoustic pop', and she had been taken on as an ambassador for both Quicksilver and The Body Shop.
Fast forward to 2015, and Leddra is back in Norwich, older and wiser, but we are still waiting for the release of the follow-up album. She is supported, and accompanied on stage, by Lee Broderick, who coincidentally also played support last time around.
Broderick has grown as a performer since I last saw him, and his songs of missed love and angst sound more Nashville than Liverpool. He also has an album out soon.
Interestingly, there are a high proportion of Leddra fans ('Leddies') in the audience that seem to know all the old songs, and are politely receptive to the new ones. National fame and fortune may still be tantalisingly close, just around the corner perhaps, but keeping a loyal fanbase is a solid foundation on which to build.
The new songs convey an element of confession, anger, bitterness, and even cynicism. Leddra still flashes the trademark smile, giggling and chatting between numbers then goading us into choreographed sing-a-longs, but for a singer who built her name on an upbeat and positive message there is a melancholy that seems to catch the audience out. It as if we have pigeon-holed Leddra into the 'happy box', and seem reluctant to want to buy in to her pain and soul-baring.
No doubt we will see more of Leddra Chapman in the next twelve months. She intends to spend the year touring, and has her eye on the festival circuit. It will be interesting to see how the new album is received by a fresh audience, whilst the 'Leddies' may still be hanging on to 'Summer Song' and 'All About You'.