Shereen Low meets everyone's favourite new singer, Corinne Bailey Rae...
Hype can work both ways in the music industry. Some artists whose reputation precedes their music can find that the publicity backfires, while those who try to avoid promotion can sometimes provoke more interest.
You may not have heard her music, but you will have heard the buzz surrounding Corinne Bailey Rae, the Leeds-born singersongwriter who has been touted as one of the brightest stars of 2006.
Last November her debut single, Like A Star, won over esteemed music pundits including Jools Holland, Jo Whiley, Terry Wogan and Trevor Nelson, and her forthcoming UK tour sold out within a week - before she had any chart success.
"I think it's really good, but it's quite scary as well," says the 27-year-old.
"I would rather be in this position than still be trying to get people to hear about you. It's based on people having heard some of the music and being at some of the gigs, so hopefully it's not just hot air.
"But I do think there's a lot of expectation. I feel the music itself can stand up to it, but I hope the expectation isn't on its commercial appeal. I hope there's no pressure to get to a certain position in the charts or sell a certain amount of records. I'm hoping people will like it but I'm not expecting millions to buy it, you know?"
Corinne may have done a lot of hoping but it seems she had no need to worry - the album, which was put forward a week early due to public demand, went straight to No 1, while her second single, Put Your Records On, went to the second spot.
"I've been working on the album as long as I've been into music," she says.
"All the experience I've had, all the performing and all the writing has culminated in my first proper record. I wrote Like A Star about four years ago, and Put Your Records On was the most recent song.
"I did a gig with all the songs recently and needed an upbeat song - it was all a bit slow. That's my natural place - the slow feeling songs - but I also want to be able to do a live gig, and for it not to drag."
It's hard not to fall in love with Corinne's stunningly soulful voice, which has been compared to Billie Holiday and Norah Jones - so it seems surprising that her singing career started off in an indie band called Helen.
"I was 15 when we started - we were influenced by guitar bands like Led Zeppelin and Radiohead. It was an indie band, so it could be eclectic, raw and vulnerable. Towards the end, we were pulling it in a more soulful direction," she says.
"I wrote Like A Star when I was in the band, and we used to play that at the end of the set, alongside really heavy guitar descending chord songs."
Corinne started singing more soul when she began working in a local jazz club, which inspired her when she was writing songs for her self-titled debut album.
"When I was writing this record, I wanted to write something that was soulful but also quite indie in its feel and in the way we recorded it, keeping it quite raw and the songs quite honest. There are bits where it just shrinks down to the guitar and vocals, so it has those influences."
Her experiences of love have also acted as inspiration. While she has been happily married to saxophonist Jason since she was 22, she was in her teens when her parents divorced.
"I have a real broad range of feelings about love," she says with a smile. "I try to be more honest and realistic about love than conventional pop songs. I recognise that it can go wrong for some people and
that it can be really painful, but I'm also really hopeful and optimistic about love.
"I focus on the fact that it's not all just warm and fluffy feelings and that it's work.
"It's great to argue with someone and know that there's a real commitment underneath it all - it's not about slamming doors and walking away, but about working things out. I do write a lot about love, I guess, from all these different angles, because it's a complicated thing and I think it's worth a couple of songs."
Getting married at the young age of 22 seems to be rare nowadays, but Corinne doesn't feel it's a big deal.
"I've never really known any different, and a lot of my friends are in quite committed relationships so I don't feel so different from them," she says."I feel really lucky that I
found someone that I want to spend my life with at such an early age. It's great.
"We're both musicians and we have a lot of friends and feel part of a community - we're not just watching TV on our own together like a lot of people, so I think it's cool."
Jason, 29, also helped her out on the album, playing in the horn section, alongside his band The Haggis Horns. He'll be joining her when she begins touring later this month.
"I've never toured before. With my band, we used to play out every two weeks or so, so I've played every fortnight for the past ten years, but I've never done 14 or 20 gigs in a row before, so that's going to be really challenging.
"Luckily, some of the songs have a horn section, so Jason will be with me, which is another good reason to include that."
While Jason may be the love of her life, her passion lies in writing.
"I like writing songs, and just seeing what songs come to me. And I think the song dictates what style it should be.
She adds: "I'd like to be seen as a songwriter, and for people to look forward to the next song or release, or look for an album with decent songs on. Songs that can be interpreted in different ways that aren't really about the production or the style - I'm more worried about the lyrics and the melodies and the chords.
"Long-term, I'd like to write some really decent songs that stay around. And I guess I'd like to develop the live side of things so it's a really good show." ..SUPL: