James Arthur was on stage when it struck him how his fifth album should sound. A sold-out crowd was singing along to his hits, immersed in the emotion that James could hear in his own voice.

“I always connect with an audience,” says the Middlesbrough-born musician, “but something special happened that night. There was an intensity to my voice, a rawness that the fans could feel. I wanted to capture the same sensation on record. It was my focus for every song.”

James’ last album, 2021’s It’ll All Make Sense In The End, was a lockdown project recorded at home that leant heavily on programmed beats. Playing it live he found himself tweaking the songs to give them an organic band feel.

“I look back at that album as an experiment, a desire to do something different,” says Britain’s most successful X Factor winner, whose first two albums were platinum sellers and who has worked with Afrojack, Anne-Marie, Sigala, Rudimental and Marshmello. “What I realised is that my voice suits old-school instrumentation – guitar, piano, drums. That’s when I really connect with a crowd. It’s when the intensity comes.”