Warren’s sound is folkish, but her first influences were less earthly.
‘I did grow up as a Southern Baptist, and ran away from the church just as fast as I could. But the thing I was able to grab from it was basic music theory – “Okay, the sopranos are doing that and the altos are doing that and there’s the bass and this is how they move together.” So there’s a big gospel background with my themes and with my harmonic choices.’
She only realised the songs on her new album, Circles, were connected after recording them.
‘I remember [producer] Russ [Elevado] was like, “Let’s show up and see what songs we’ll do.” I was approaching it much more methodically, and I left a tiny, tiny window for spontaneity. But I didn’t realise that the songs I was really gung ho about were linked. So it was all this beautiful accident that occurred, and the fellas and I were pretty chuffed. And we’re just really excited that it’s out there now, because we recorded it about five years ago.’
Needless to say, this has given her a bit of time to prepare the follow-up.
‘There are a lot of songs. Luckily. I can’t wake up and have some sort of anxiety: “Waah, what am I gonna do for the next album?” Mind you, I am human, so that will pop up, but then I’ll be like, “Oh yeah, I have more than 150 songs, ha ha ha! I’m gonna go and have a drink!” So right now I’m just amusing myself with putting some of the songs down in demo and fleshing out some ideas, which has been really fun and healthy and good.’
It also means we’ll be spared the ‘pressures of fame’ record for a few years…
‘Maybe by the ninth year, that’ll be the album about the Betty Ford experience, how I had to kick those habits to the side ’cos they were killin’ me! Ha ha!’
Still, playing the old songs makes live shows something like time travel for Warren.
‘It does. In many ways. But during a four-night residency in London, I decided to fall in love with the songs again, to feel that there was still an aspect in me that could relate to them.’
Which is good news, because they’re largely about Warren’s own existence.
‘I guess the real link is I was living in New York at the time, and I was pretty prolific. Every day something was going on and I could document it. ‘Going Back to Circles’ is completely about a relationship I had, and ‘To the Middle’ was me feeling the regret of leaving Kansas City for the Big Apple. The link is me in New York and not knowing when I was going to make it back home.’
Warren still hasn’t made it home; she’s now residing in Paris.
‘Again, that was an accident. I came to Paris to do some promotional stuff. And my label said, “Maybe you should think about moving to Paris.” And I said no. And then they flew me here and never flew me back, and I started paying rent… And I’ve been looking for a good lawyer ever since! But I’ve gotten accustomed to being here.’
Sorry, readers – we’d imagined Warren as a free-spirited nomad, rather than a kidnap victim.
‘Ha ha! It’s a mixture of both – before I came here I was thinking of putting my roots back in Kansas City, and was renting this little room from my eighth-grade English teacher, my second mother. I was starting to feel like Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III – “I keep trying to get out, but they keep pulling me back in!” So it was a sign that it wasn’t really the time to put the roots down. There’s still a lot of gypsy wandering left.’
Debut album Circles is available now online.