"I’m thinking about recording it in Nashville”, she says. There’s a slight pause. “Er… I’m also going to do it solo. Which is breaking news; you’re the first person to hear this!”
It means Emily’s current UK tour will be the last time she travels with The Red Clay Halo for a while. Her previous four albums have all featured the trio of Anna Jenkins, Gill Sandell and Jo Silverston playing a variety of instruments including violin, accordion and cello.
“It’s all very amicable. We’ve been together for nine years now and just feel like having a bit of a break. We’re going to pursue some different things. It certainly doesn’t mean we won’t be doing more in the future.”
Emily put the band together in 2005, although she didn’t deliberately choose an all-female line-up. “It just worked out that way”, she explains, “but it has been a really refreshing thing”. Their most recent album, Dear River, is about the themes of home and travel. So where is home for Emily?
“My truest sense of home is where my parents still live, down by the Blackwood River in the southwest of Australia. I now live in Stroud, in Gloucestershire, but I’m hardly ever there. A lot of the time it’s about having a friendship in a place. Often it’s people that give you a sense of home.”
Describing Emily’s music style isn’t particularly straightforward, even for her. “That’s the trickiest question. I would say it’s got its roots in folk and country but there’s definitely a rock/pop element to it as well.”
It prompts me to ask about her songwriting process. “Inspiration comes from all over”, Emily says. “For Dear River, I ended up being really studious, getting a whole load of books and studying other people’s ideas of home, immigration and Australian indigenous history. Whittling all of that down into three-and-a half minute songs is quite tricky.”
Even if the name isn’t familiar, you may recognise Emily’s music. Nostalgia was chosen as the theme to BBC TV’s adaptation of Wallander, while a second song introduced BBC2 crime drama The Shadow Line. Since then, she’s composed for two feature films: recently-released thriller The Keeping Room and forthcoming road movie Hec McAdam.
This month’s visit to Lewes is a return trip for Emily, who’s previously performed at Union Music Store. “I love Stevie and Jamie who run the shop; they’re very passionate about music and community. To be honest, that’s the only thing I’ve really seen in Lewes other than the café across the road, which is also very good!”
Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo, Tue 11, All Saints Centre, 7.30pm, £15/£12.
First published in Viva Lewes magazine issue 98 November 2014.