Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Again, Melancholy: Sarah Cracknell’s Favourite Albums

Off the back of releasing her second solo LP, Red Kite, the singer-songwriter and Saint Etienne member diligently jogged her memory, picked her 13 top records and made annotations. She talks Gary Kaill through her notes

"Ah, a pussy cat! He’s cute!" Oh dear. The perils of Skype laid bare in a mere half dozen words. Part way through our interview, Sarah Cracknell takes five to go and search for a phone charger and to deal with children returning home from school. Halfwit here uses the break to let the cat in, who, predictably enough, heads straight for desk and laptop. And unwittingly exposes his hapless owner’s technical inadequacies with barely a swish of his tail, the little swine. "You can see me?" I splutter. "Yeah!" says Cracknell. "Can’t you see me?" That would be a no. "Oh, don’t worry," she laughs. "I’d have said if you’d been doing anything embarrassing."

It might not have been quite the busiest year of their quarter-century career but Saint Etienne’s 2015 has been industrious enough to keep the hardcore happy. Having premiered the Pete Wiggs-scored soundtrack to Paul Kelly’s cinematic ode to London How We Used To Live at the Barbican late last year, the band took the show on tour for selected dates, accompanying the visuals as a live six-piece and throwing in a best of set for good measure.

Cracknell is unfashionably forthcoming when we touch on the prospect of new Saint Etienne material: "We always start with vague mutterings about doing something new. We all start to feel like it’s the right time and I think that’s happening at the moment. So we’re starting to talk about doing another record, definitely. It’s not going to come out immediately but it’s in the offing." In the meantime, the band round out the year with a string of their by-now traditional Christmas shows, promising festive reworkings ("Actually, no, we’ve not had Mr Burgess join us for ‘I Was Born On Christmas Day’ for a while now. Maybe I’ll ask him…") and a set packed with fan favourites.

But forget the day job for a moment. Over the summer, Cracknell released her second solo record Red Kite, the long-awaited successor to 1997’s Lipslide. A deeper and more fully realised work than the debut, its pop sensibilities come as no surprise, and neither does its songcraft, but a breezy pastoral vibe gives it breadth and colour. It’s a beguiling and singular work, and more than just mere filler for while her band is otherwise engaged. Cracknell takes it on the road for a second set of solo dates, including a show at London’s Cadogan Hall later this month supported by Jane Weaver. "I love Jane Weaver," she says. "That’s one record I’ve really enjoyed this year. Amazing."

Indeed, when we shift to discuss her Baker’s Dozen choices, she goes so far as to say that it [The Silver Globe] nearly made the cut. A couple of others came close. "I really should have included some Kate Bush," says Cracknell. "The Kick Inside is my absolute favourite of hers. I nearly included The Beatles’ Revolver, too. Ah well. The thing is, I’ve got a memory like a sieve, so I’ve really had to work at this and properly sit down and give it some thought. So if you hear the rustling of paper, that’s me going back over my notes."

Red Kite is out now on Cherry Red Records. Sarah Cracknell plays Cadogan Hall in London on November 28; for full details and tickets, head here. Click on the image below to begin scrolling through Sarah’s choices, which run in no particular order

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