Briana's call to arms
The ex-Beautiful South singer forsakes her knife-throwing antics to talk to Gary Crossing about going solo.
Unless you've been trapped under a particularly
heavy duvet and had absolutely no contact with the world outside your boudoir
for the last
six years, you will have heard Briana Corrigan's voice before.
The diminuitive songstress with the copper-colored
curls was a full-time member of Hull-based popsters The Beautiful South
for four years,
adding her delicious, country-tinged vocals to their first three albums - Welcome To The Beautiful South, Choke and 0898.
You will have seen Corrigan's face before too,
in the video for the South's superb '89 single A Little Time. In one of
the most glorious
moments of visual pop history, she stands in a wrecked kitchen, hair liberally dusted with a burst bag of flour, arguing with her on-screen
partner, fellow South-erner Dave Hemmingway [sic]. He comes off the worst, a clutch of thrown kitchen knives almost pinning him to the
Thankfully, all sharp objects have been hidden
away and Corrigan is in a peaceful mood today. Sitting with a beer amidst
the chink, chatter
and clatter of a Kensington bistro, she's here to talk about her debut solo album, When My Arms Wrap You Wround.
Corrigan left the Beautiful South in '92, amidst
speculation that she was becoming increasingly disillusioned with the sexist
nature of South
mainman Paul Heaton's lyrics. She insists, though, that while she felt uncomfortable singing certain songs, the split was an amicable one.
"I left really because it was the right time for
me to go," she says in a soft Belfast brogue. "I had to move on. My reservation
about some of
the lyrics became like a trigger to spur me on. Things have a natural timescale and I just reached my limit."
It wasn't just that. Corrigan was feeling creatively
challenged too. Being the singer of other people's songs is all well and
good but Corrigan
wanted to write her own. "I'd always written songs for myself," she says, "but I knew that there wasn't going to be an opportunity for that in
the band. As a woman in this business you're always in a much stronger position if you perform your own stuff."
Undaunted by the prospect of leaving a hugely
successful band and going solo, Corrigan says it wasn't such a brave thing
to do. "The urge
to move on was stronger than the fear of the potential void on the other side, so it didn't take much courage," she says.
It did take a bit of grit to get the perfect record
deal though. "It was pretty imortant to me that I was allowed to do what
I want, so I had to
find the right record company," she says, "I didn't want to be forced into some category that people thought I should be in, given my
Sticking to her guns has paid off. When My Arms
Wrap You Round is a fine album of Corrigan-penned country-folk tunes with
a twist of
pop and a dark dash of melancholy. Crafted with the help of former members of indie janglers Eat and the BMX Bandits, as well as the
Palace Brothers' Will Oldham, it settles between the likes of kd lang, Mary Margaret O'Hara and Eddi Reader, with perhaps a passing nod
to the South. Corrigan would rather not have it compared to anything, although she seems moderately pleased when her heroes Patsy Cline
and Rod Stewart are mentioned.
Whatever comparisons are made, her album is an
assured and moving debut which will soon establish Corrigan as a voice
in her own right.
And what a voice it is too.
When My Arms Wrap You Round is out this week on
Submitted by Katy Appleton, October 1996
Taken form the original site location at http://www.math.washington.edu/~garfield/TBS/Press/BigIssue.html