BLAIR Dunlop broke on to the folk scene with his debut album Blight and Blossom which led to him receiving the Horizon Award at the BBC2 Folk Awards in 2013.

It comes as a surprise then to hear him to declare that he can’t listen to either that or his second album House of Jacks, recorded the following year.

“I can’t listen to the first two albums,” he admitted. “It’s like my voice broke twice. I really do like a lot of the writing on the albums but I just can’t listen to them.”

Blair will be in Manchester next week playing the Victoria Warehouse as part of the Manchester Folk Festival.

An erudite and thoughtful songwriter he’s got a new album under his belt - Notes From An Island - which is his most mature and interesting collection of songs to date. And he’s delighted to be getting back on the road to play them live.

“If I’ve not played songs live they really don’t exist yet if that makes sense,” he said. “I had a bit of a break over the summer which was good because the World Cup was on but now I’m properly ready to go.

“I’m really looking forward to taking these songs on the road. The record came out earlier this summer in Australia but by the time it came out in the UK it was festival season so I’ve only really played the songs solo and in Australia which was a completely different experience. It’s going to be great to be able to play them with the band.”

Notes From An Island is arguably Blair’s most political album to date and is a natural successor to his 2016 release Gilded.

“When I came out of recording Gilded I was in a bad place,” he admits. “But now I’m in a much better place and a lot of the songs on the new album are about that.”

As a result, a number of the songs have powerful lyrics combined with very catchy melodies.

“Not all of the songs are serious and I think that juxtaposition is healthy,” said Blair. “I’ve always liked people singing dark lyrics with nice tunes.”

Both Blair’s personal circumstances and the time he was writing the album shaped its direction.

“I was drawing parallels between the personal isolation I was feeling a couple of years ago and the social isolation we were experiencing. I wrote it in 2016 when we were in the middle of Brexit and Trump so there was all these parallels I could draw on.

“I didn’t consciously set out to be political. I don’t like to preach, I just like to put a story forward and a point of view and you can draw from that what you will. Ramming a point down people’s - that’s is not really me. Others can do it really well but that’s not me.

“I think I have a more subtle approach.”

Although he has an aversion to his debut release, Blair hasn’t given up on the songs altogether and has even considered re-recording them at some stage.

“I’ve thought about going back and doing an acoustic version of some of the songs or maybe a live album version of them,” he said. “That wouldn’t be too time consuming.”

Blair has already turned his thoughts to the follow-up to Notes From An Island.

“I think I’d like to have written most of the next album by Christmas,” he said. “I’ve got a massive list of ideas and I do enjoy the whole process of writing.”

Blair Dunlop, with Eliza Carthy and the Wayward Band, Victoria Warehouse, Manchester, Friday, October 19. Details from