With his husky voice, a head full of catchy tunes and a story to tell, Jack Savoretti would seem to have everything it takes.
Yet, just one year ago - with two albums already to his name, a raft of rave reviews, and a legion of fans from five years of solid gigging - Jack was about to pack it all in.
Having left his former label and management, he had become thoroughly disillusioned with the music biz at the age of 27. "I was seriously thinking about giving it all up," he admits. He had just gotten married, had a kid on the way, and hadn't written a song in months.
Then, contemplating his next move last summer, a song came into his head. "I was thinking my career was over before it had really begun. Then this song came along and made me realise I wanted to make another album."
That song, 'Knock Knock,' is one of the 13 self-penned songs that make up 'Before the Storm.' It's Jack's third album, but he sees it as a new beginning. "For me this is like starting all over again. The first two albums came from my imagination, but for this one I have drawn on my personal experience."
The songs on 'Before the Storm' chart a turbulent relationship, and articulate the emotional dilemma of a young man torn between enjoying his freedom and settling down with the love of his life. There are fast songs and slow songs, sad ones and happy ones, songs about wild nights on the town and dark nights of the soul. What they share is the honesty of the lyrics and the catchiness of the tunes. The son of a Polish-German model, whose own parents had fled the Holocaust, and an Italian actor who fled home to escape terrorist death threats, he grew up in London, Italy and Switzerland. Having spent school days "looking out of the window", he first planned to become a footballer.
Next came a plan to study film in California, prompted by seeing 'The Graduate' at the age of 16, and falling in love with its Simon & Garfunkel soundtrack. That ambition was dramatically thwarted by Jack leaving home on September 11, 2001. "I woke up on a plane halfway across the Atlantic with military jets outside the window and the captain telling us the Pentagon had been hit, and the Twin Towers were no longer standing." Fourteen frightening hours after taking off in Zurich, he was landing in Geneva. "My California dream came to a pretty abrupt end."
When he finally made it to Los Angeles, he found a nation in shock, but fell in love with the city and its music. Encouraged by his mother, who had hung out with Hendrix and the Stones in her modelling years, he picked up a guitar and began to write tunes for the poetry he had written at school.
The outcome was 'Between The Minds', a debut album that showcased Jack's husky voice and knack for a catchy tune. Radio 2 loved it and he was invited to tour Europe with Corinne Bailey Rae, culminating in a gig in front of 9,000 fans at Hammersmith Apollo.
But Jack and his indie label were fighting to be heard against the machine of the industry. "It was just the wrong time for me to try to break through."
A headline tour of Caffe Nero branches around Britain helped generate a buzz about Jack, but his second album, 'Harder than Easy,' failed to reach the audience it deserved when he parted ways with his first label.
Fast-forward to the Spring of 2012 and Jack is in the studio around the corner from his home. Recorded in just four days at KensalTown Studios, 'Before the Storm' is produced by Martin Terefe and The Suppliers, the Scandinavian collective behind a host of hits for artists including James Morrison and Jason Mraz.
"After eight years I have finally found my sound," says Jack. "I feel like this is my first album. The first two felt like my education and my college years, and this feels like my first real job. I sat down and decided I wanted to make a great album, where every song could stand alone and yet be part of a great album. I think we've achieved it. I am very proud of this album."