"I love David Bowie - but he's never made me cry." Sat in the bar at Manchester's Cornerhouse cinema, Lisa Stansfield is explaining why her very favourite music has to touch her heart, and not just her head. "He makes me think, but never makes me cry."
By this point, we've been chatting about Lisa's favourite albums for over an hour. It's been an hour punctuated by Stansfield's glorious guffaw (she can silence a bar with her laughter) and a number of faintly libelous stories about globally-famous musicians.
And while she's hugely fun company, 2014 is a seriously big year for Lisa Stansfield. Our Cornerhouse meet up is convenient – later that evening is a screening of Northern Soul, a new film celebrating the rise of soul music in nightclubs like Wigan Casino and Manchester's Twisted Wheel in the 1970s. Stansfield plays the mother of one of the lead characters and is not looking forward to seeing herself on screen ("I look like shit.") It also means the bar is rammed with a mix of Mancunian glitterati (Mani and Ian Brown are in attendance) and very old school northern soul aficionados. There are many 'Keep The Faith' fist tattoos on display.
But, perhaps more significantly, February saw the release of Lisa's first album in a decade, Seven. Written and produced by Stansfield and her husband (and long time songwriting partner) Ian Devaney, Seven is ten songs of sophisticated soul and a perfect pedestal for Lisa's rich vocal.
However, while Lisa asks me what I think of Seven - and it is genuinely wonderful to hear her voice again – I need her to crack on with explaining her album selections. Before we begin, Lisa informs me that she in not a "mega music geek" and I shouldn't expect her to know "every last detail about an album's production credits," which is more than fine with me. We then canter through a list that contains some pretty formidable characters – Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, Grace Jones, George Clinton, Prince and Tracy Chapman all feature.
After we've discussed Lisa's list, I ask her what connects her choices. For perhaps the only time, her voice drops and she goes all serious on me. "It's about heart and soul. I love the fact that a piece of music can impact so many people and make them feel differently and maybe even help them. I love that people can find solace in music because they can identify with it. Someone can have a shitty day and come home and listen to a song and know that someone else is singing about the way they feel. I feel that's what music is for."
Check out below what these 13 albums mean to Lisa