Fresh from hanging up her dancing shoes on Strictly Come Dancing, Sophie Ellis-Bexter leaves behind her disco-pop past as she launches new album 'Wanderlust' tonight. Filled with Balkenesque strings and a Bulgarian choir it is a mysterious offering that is more Rasputina than Kylie.
Opening with swooping violins on “Birth of an Empire” Ellis-Bextor is gentle and unassuming- she may have previously been regarded as the imperious ice-maiden of British pop but these new songs showcase an unseen vulnerability and poignancy in tonight's performance.
Elaborate guitar lines and a waltzing piano on “Love Is a Camera” is a rich mysterious weave in song about a witch capturing souls while tremulous ballads like “Young Blood” “Until the Stars Collide” and “When the Storm Has Blown Over” have an earthiness and fragility similar to Sibylle Baier or Ane Brun.
Following a mega-mix encore of her past hits including “Groovjet”, “Heartbreak” and “Murder on the Dancefloor”, we're reminded just how much of a depature this is as Ellis-Bextor runs to the back of the room to sing the accapella 'Interlude'.
With co-writer, producer and seasoned musician Ed Hardcourt at her side playing keyboard, Ellis-Bextor creates a captivating show in all it's sumptuous romantic instrumentation.
Strictly Come Dancing past winners
Strictly Come Dancing past winners
1/12 Caroline Flack
Caroline Flack triumphed ahead of Frankie Bridge, Mark Wright and Simon Webbe to lift the 2014 Glitter Ball trophy with Pasha Kovalev.
2/12 Abbey Clancey
Model Abbey Clancy won the 2013 series with her dance partner Aljaz Skorjanec.
3/12 Louis Smith
Last year's winner was Olympic gymnastics bronze medallist Louis Smith, who took part fresh from the glory of the London games. He won Strictly with Flavia Cacace after Girls Aloud's Kimberley Walsh, Denise Van Outen and Danni Harmer challenged him in the final.
4/12 Harry Judd
McFly drummer Harry Judd and his partner Aliona Vilani took the trophy in 2011 after seeing off competition from Jason Donavan. He had previously won a Children in Need special of Strictly, in which he beat The Saturdays' Rochelle Wiseman to the title.
5/12 Kara Tointon
EastEnders star Kara Tointon was the second actress to win Strictly in 2010, partnered with debut professional Artem Chigvintsev. She has appeared in Pygmalion in the West End with Rupert Everett.
6/12 Chris Hollins
News presenter and sportsman Chris Hollins won in 2009 with Ola Jordan to beat actor Ricky Whittle to the crown. He managed to avoid the dance-off for the entirety of his run. He presented the BBC Breakfast sports news while appearing on Strictly.
7/12 Tom Chambers
Holby City actor Tom Chambers won in 2008 with Camilla Dallerup, who was competing in her last series of the show. Model Lisa Snowdon and S Club star Rachel Stevens lost out in the final. He currently stars in the West End.
8/12 Alesha Dixon
Singer and former Strictly judge Alesha Dixon was crowned champion of the 5th series in 2007. She won with Matthew Cutler after a close final with Matt Di Angelo. She holds the record for the highest average score in Strictly history with 36.5, despite never achieving a perfect 40 points. She joined the judging panel from 2009 to 2011 and is now on Britain's Got Talent.
9/12 Mark Ramprakash
Proving that cricketers can flourish on Strictly, Mark Ramprakash followed Darren Gough's footsteps to win Strictly in 2006 with dance partner Karen Hardy. Rugby player Matt Dawson lost out to him in the final.
10/12 Darren Gough
Cricketer Darren Gough won the third series with Lilia Kopylova, defeating athlete Colin Jackson and presenter Zoe Ball. Gough never finished top of the judges' leaderboard but was still crowned champion by the public! He now co-presents a talkSPORT radio show.
11/12 Jill Halfpenny
EastEnders actress Jill Halfpenny won the second 2004 series with Darren Bennett after beating off competition from comedian Julian Clary and Olympian Denise Lewis. She still holds the highest score for a Jive in Strictly history, scoring the full 40 points from the judges. She now has a West End theatre career.
12/12 Natasha Kaplinsky
Newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky was the first winner to lift the glitterball trophy with her dance partner Brendan Cole in 2004, beating EastEnders actor Christopher Parker in the final.