The Mirror JUNE 10, 2011 - by Gavin Martin


Melting into the surroundings of the low-lit bar in the basement of a bijou West London hotel is Andrea Corr, the striking Irish beauty who sold sixty million albums and attained worldwide fame with her brothers and sisters in The Corrs.

Caroline, Sharon and Jim put the band on extended hold to raise families after the group's last album in 2005, while Andrea, thirty-seven, has followed a career as a stage actress and solo singer. It has not always lived up to expectations, and her experience with the 2007 flop debut album Ten Feet High still rankles.

"I was very happy with it," she insists, "but made a record the record company didn't want, and without their support you're pushing something very heavy up a hill."

It took time and persuasion for Andrea to even consider recording a follow-up. Finally, we have Lifelines, a new collection of not always predictable cover versions made under the direction of her pal (and Bono style advisor) Gavin Friday, with producers John Reynolds and Brian Eno.

The album follows the safety first, rather than rip it up and start again, approach to covers. Perhaps after marrying financier Brett Desmond - son of Ireland's sixth richest man - two years ago, Andrea doesn't really have to try so hard.

"I took a break and decided not to do it until I got excited again," she explains. "Other people sing in the shower, but I don't. You walk away from something and it follows you back if it's right for you. That's what happened, so here I am again."

At first, Andrea was reluctant to record covers, but found singing tunes made famous by Nick Drake, Blue Nile, The Velvet Underground, John Lennon and others inspired her to write original material.

"One of the most complimentary things people can say to you as a writer," she says, "is 'a song helped me through a tough time' or 'I fell in love to that song'.

"So I thought of the ones that had been significant to me and then I started to love doing it. This record was right back to the basics the way it should be. Nobody knew we were making it.

"After John and I had recorded a few songs, we went to Brian Eno's house and he started taking out records and playing them. His enthusiasm was contagious - it was like being a teenager again."

Eno is noted for some strange production techniques, so did he ask you to do anything odd, like sing while wearing a blindfold?

"That'd be interesting," Andrea laughs. "No, there was nothing like that. He layered a lot of his own backing vocals. I was very lucky to have him there."

When she embarked on her solo career, Andrea admitted missing the security of The Corrs' musical family unit. She still does.

"I can only do bits and pieces," she admits. "I'm quite uncomfortable in myself. When I was with the family I could stay quiet and do very little promotion."

Andrea still sees her siblings, enjoys being an aunt and sometimes the prospect of the inevitable comeback is discussed. "I don't really live by plans," she admits.

"They kind of scare me. Maybe we'll find ourselves all on the same path again someday, but it's not something to force. Being a family, we are still together. Maybe in the future. I don't know, but it's a possibility."

Amiable yet guarded, Andrea has the characteristics of one who found stardom young but felt ambivalent about the limelight.

Even so, friendships with the likes of Bono, onstage appearances with The Rolling Stones and recording with hard-drinking Irish institution The Chieftains must have had their effect. Surely, she's more confident than the callow 1fifteen-year-old she was when starting out?

"I think I was more confident back then," Andrea says. "Maybe I was bolder. Now I feel like I'm back at the beginning. I got into listening to music again and remembering what I felt about it. I have no regrets. I'm pretty happy with how everything has been, even if it hurt at the time."

Lifelines is out now.