"I get so homesick sometimes,” admits Nan Vernon. “I keep thinking about my two dogs back home at my father’s in Los Angeles. I phone up to speak to them sometimes,” she adds with deadpan innocence. “It’s just so upsetting.”
Upsetting it may be but the sacrifice is beginning to pay off. Earlier this month Nan (short for Nancy) released her first album, Manta Ray, a record of such rare vision, beauty and intelligence it’s already a front runner for Record of the Year. Meticulously crafted and insidiously memorable, Manta Ray ranks alongside Kate Bush’s Kick Inside and Sinead O’Connor’s Lion And The Cobra as an object lesson to debutantes.
Having come to England originally to join Dave Stewart’s band, The Spiritual Cowboys, Nan soon found the former Eurythmic encouraging her fledgling songwriting talent.
On tour she would spend her time recording her songs onto the tour track recorder that travelled with the band. Writing on planes, buses and in hotel rooms she soon developed her own style.
“Songwriting is like doing an oil painting, different layers at different times... that’s definitely the way I seem to work anyway,” she says.
Eventually Nan had enough material for an album but frustrating confusions have since conspired against her.
The album’s release was delayed for months because of record company scheduling. In the meantime promotional copies sent to music reviewers were ecstatically reviewed without the record being available in the shops.
Nan sighs: “For some reason it’s been quite a difficult birth. It’s such a test of patience.”
With the album finally in the shops, Nan is embarking on her first headlining tour which comes to the Lomax in Liverpool’s Cumberland Street next Thursday (July 28th 1994).
“At the moment we’re in our really new, raw state. A three-piece band with a drummer who doubles up on keyboards; we just want to be real with what we’re doing and let it grow organically.
“Ultimately though I’d like to do something that Incorporates theatre and music. I think the direction we’re going will evolve into a more Brechtian theatrical type thing. I have a fantasy about making a musical that’s quite odd ... a sort of cross between Edith Piaf and War of the Worlds.”
Tony Kenwright, Liverpool Daily Post, July 22nd 1994