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It has been a landmark year for Australian folkie Jordie Lane.
He has played a series of high-profile showcases in North America, starred in the Australian premiere of theatre show Grievous Angel: The Legend of Gram Parsons, toured Australia in support of English bard Billy Bragg and started recording his third album in Los Angeles.
Not one to sit still for long, Lane returns to New Zealand (he last toured in December 2011) to perform five shows in eight days, including a gig at Plato restaurant, Dunedin, next Thursday, which will feature New Zealand Music Award nominee Marlon Williams, of The Unfaithful Ways, and 2010 Apra Best Country Song Award winner Matt Langley, of Dunedin.
Lane prefers to play his songs alone. Though he occasionally performs with a band at festivals, he enjoys the upfront honesty of a solo show.
"I can literally go anywhere with my solo show. There is no-one else who has to know where the song is going next," Lane explained from Melbourne earlier this week.
"It's more of an anything-goes experience. I can interact a lot more with the audience, too, as I get a bit lonely up there.
"The first couple of years I was playing in tiny bars to a handful of people. It has built up and I now have a bit of a following, including in the United States, Canada and New Zealand.
"But I've always just done what I do, so it's been interesting to see how acoustic music has become more popular."
Due for release early next year, Lane's new album follows 2011 release Blood Thinner, which was nominated for Best Blues & Roots Album at the 2011 Australian Independent Music Awards.
For Blood Thinner, the Melbourne-based folk troubadour took a different approach to that employed on 2008 effort Sleeping Patterns.
Out went the guest musicians and studio gear; instead Lane recorded the album on a four-track cassette recorder.
This time around, it seems Lane is looking for a bit more polish. Certainly, his new single Fool For Love, recorded in Los Angeles with Grammy Award-winning producer Tom Biller (Kanye West, Beck, Fiona Apple), features keyboards, a groovy walking bass, intricate percussion and slick electric guitar phrasing.
"We are still in the process of making the new album. The first single might not fly the flag for the rest of the album, but it is definitely a big change instrumentally. I didn't want to do just guitar and banjo this time around. I wanted a drummer in a studio, to rock it out.
"The tricky thing is to find that special vibe where it doesn't feel too affected."