SHEFFIELD soul musician Paul Carrack heads out on tour on Friday, promoting his 17th album, These Days.

No fewer than five of the 30 dates will be in Yorkshire: Leeds Town Hall on Sunday; York Barbican on January 26; Hull City Hall, February 2; Sheffield City Hall, March 14, and Harrogate Convention Centre, March 23.

Seventeen albums, Paul, let alone your work with Ace, Squeeze, Mike + The Mechanics, BB King, Roxy Music and Eric Clapton..."Long may it continue!” he says.

“But I’m not counting. I’m not even sure if it’s true it’s 17. I think it’s a double-edged sword! Seventeen albums? ‘Never heard of him!’, some might be saying.”

Assuming it is album number 17, how did you approach making it? “Sometimes it can be a little daunting because basically I'm staring at a blank page, but I probably wouldn't do it if I didn't think people who like my music want to hear more," says 67-year-old Paul. "I still don't think I've painted my masterpiece; I'm always trying to top the last one."

To help him do so this time, he recorded These Days with Paul on keyboards, guitar and vocals; regular bandmate Jeremy Meek on bass; Robbie McIntosh, from Paul McCartney's band, on lead guitar; and Steve Gadd, Carrack’s mate from Eric Clapton's tour band, on drums.

What's more, the 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 in his Cold Sweat era. Five tracks have lyrics by Paul’s friend, former Squeeze compadre Chris Difford.

As usual, the songs started in Carrack’s home studio but came to life in a different way this time. “I don’t write a song and then do a demo," Paul 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 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." So keen that when said he would travelling through Britain after touring with Chick Corea, Paul booked Air Studios in London for three days to cut a dozen tracks as a band before taking the recordings back to his home studio.

"My songs are quite simple and traditional in structure. I'm not trying to reinvent music or the wheel," says Paul. "I try to write songs that I hope will resonate with people with the depth of honesty on there.

"This album is about where I am now, getting to an age, and appreciating what you’ve got.

"There's no set theme or concept, but once it's done I can see what I'm on about. It's been a long journey making all these albums, and if it ended tomorrow, I've achieved more than I ever expected or deserved, but there's a caveat that I could always do better."

Reflecting on life at 67, Paul says: "In many respects, this is my favourite time: I'm fairly established at a decent level; I'm not a superstar or in a complacent place, but I'm grateful for where I am, and that's a good thing as I've always been insecure because it's a flakey business to be in.

"There's always been an element of trying to keep your head above water and hoping that a magical hit will keep everything hunky dory, but in the long term it's probably more important to try to be true to yourself."  

Tickets for Paul Carrack's 7.30pm show at York Barbican can be booked on 0844 854 2757, at or in person from the Barbican box office.