AMERICAN singer-songwriter Courtney Marie Andrews opens her 12-date British and Irish tour tomorrow night at Leeds Brudenell Social Club, tipped to be country music's new star.

Ryan Adams calls the Phoenix, Arizona musician "a phenomenal songwriter"; Damien Jurado employs her as his lead guitarist; and she has been on the restless road from the age of 16, working as a session and back-up singer and guitar player for 40 artists over a decade while releasing six albums of her own since 2008.

The latest, Honest Life, is her crossroads record, written when heartbroken and homesick for family and friends in the USA but stuck in Belgium for months on end. She returned home, worked in a bar, made the album; her breakthrough ensued. Charles Hutchinson finds out more.

What takes priority now, Courtney? The solo career or your work with other musicians? Is there still room for both?

"My solo career has always been the priority. I've always done back-up work to support my solo career. I love working with others, and that will always be an option for me, but writing songs and playing my own music is what I have dreamed of doing since I was a kid."

Did you sense that Honest Life would be your “breakout album”?

"Yes, it feels like a proper release compared to past records. When I show up to towns around Europe and the US, people come, and that's a big change for me."

How important was your April appearance on the BBC's Later...with Jools Holland show to making an impact in the UK?

"I've been a fan of Jools Holland for many years, so that made a huge impact on me. I believe there is still a huge amount of viewers, so I think it made an impact. Either way, I'm grateful to have been on the show!"

What has led you to reissue your USA-only 2013 album On My Page this month over here and how do you assess the album four years down the line?

"My label in Europe, Loose Music, came to me and asked if they could reissue it. I was so ecstatic. When I made that album I was super broke and couldn't print it on vinyl 'cos I was self-funding everything. So it's on vinyl for the first time, and hopefully it'll get into people's ears more. On My Page was a turning point for my songwriting and I look back fondly on it."

The Guardian picked you out as one of the “new rhinestone cowboys and girls” in their Friday arts supplement earlier this month. Do you sense there is a new country scene emerging?

"I feel like underground country and Americana is standing in the spotlight at the moment, which hasn't happened in a long time, if ever."

You have been making albums since the age of 17, six in a decade. How has your songwriting progressed in that time and what subjects now dominate your writing in a way they wouldn’t have done at 17?

"When I was a kid, I wrote very painfully introspective songs. As I matured, I learned to balance introspection and poetry. I also started learning from the legends of songwriting and developing the craft a bit more. I've come a long way since my early days. I didn't grow up in a musical family so I had many years of teaching myself the craft."

Courtney Marie Andrews plays Leeds Brudenell Social Club tomorrow night, supported by Will Stratton. Stage times: Courtney Marie Andrews, 9.15pm; Will Stratton, 8.15pm. Doors open at 7.30pm. Box office: