SHEFFIELD soul stalwart Paul Carrack follows up last Friday's release of his 17th solo album, These Days, with a diary full of 30 dates from next January to March.

Carrack will return to his regular York stamping ground, the Barbican, on January 26, one of no fewer than five Yorkshire gigs. First up will be Leeds Town Hall on January 20; Hull City Hall awaits on February 2; Sheffield City Hall on March 14 and Harrogate Convention Centre on March 23.

For These Days, keyboard player, guitarist and singer Carrack was joined by regular bandmate Jeremy Meek on bass, plus Robbie McIntosh on lead guitar and Steve Gadd, who has played drums for everyone from Steely Dan to James Taylor and Eric Clapton.

The album's horn section was hand-picked and overseen by Pee Wee Ellis, the American saxophonist who was an integral part of James Brown's shows and records of the vintage Cold Sweat era. Five tracks feature lyrics by Carrack's friend, Chris Difford, his former bandmate in Squeeze.

As usual, the new songs started in Carrack's home studio, but they came to life in a different way this time. "I don't write a song and then do a demo," he says. "It's a little nugget of an idea and I start messing about with it, chipping away and it becomes something. Usually, that's completed and that becomes the album.

"In this case, I took a lot of the songs quite a way, but then we decided we wanted to make it a bit more performance-based and with some other influences. I've been playing with Eric [Clapton] for about five years now, and I just mentioned it to Steve Gadd – was it something he might be interested in? –and he was very keen.”

When Gadd stopped off in Britain en route home from a European tour with Chick Corea, Carrack seized the moment and booked into Air Studios in London for three days to cut a dozen tracks as a band, before taking the songs back to his home studio.

Summing up These Days, he says: "It's grown-up pop music made by, and for, people who've had the ups and downs that life unfailingly provides. It's about getting to an age, and appreciating what you've got. I hope it will resonate with people who are going through the same stuff. It's not being frightened of it, and just trying to enjoy it."

Tickets for all Carrack's dates are on sale at; for York, 0844 854 2757, at or in person from the Barbican box office.