Award-winning musician Steph Casey is celebrating the release of her second studio album by kicking off a nationwide tour this weekend.

The Seats In My Car is Casey's second album offering, following on six years after her debut Whisper and Holler which received glowing international reviews and went straight into the top five on the NZIM music charts.

Her second album looks set to follow in its footsteps and is already attracting critical acclaim, including a five-star muzic.net review, with the reviewer describing it as "an album of sublime layers; [Casey's] luminescence continues to shine through nailing the Americana sound. Her vocal clarity and heartfelt lyrics complement each other flawlessly."

Casey, who was raised in Levin and lives in Kāpiti, says the new album shows a departure from the "classic singer-songwriter" style of the first, with "grittier" guitar sounds and more developed vocals honed throughout the past six years of live stage performance experience and extensive songwriting.

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"It's a bit of a moving away from the sound of the first album," she said. "I'm excited to be able to share it with the audience."

Singer-songwriter Steph Casey.
Singer-songwriter Steph Casey.

On The Seats In My Car Casey takes the roles of singing and playing acoustic guitar, backed by a full line-up of acclaimed musicians including a core band of Caroline Easther (The Chills, The Verlaines, Beat Rhythm Fashion) on drums, Alan Galloway (Let's Planet, Galloway) on electric guitars and Murray Costello (The Mockers, Sneaky Feelings, The Wooden Box Band) on bass.

The album's other musical contributors include accordion and Hammond organ player Alan Norman of The Warratahs and Rag Poets, Wellington singer-songwriter Hanne Jostensen on backing vocals, and trumpet player Emily Clemmet of The Wooden Box Band and Ska Pai.

Casey said being able to play with this calibre of musicians both on the album and live was especially rewarding for her.

"[They are] amazing musicians that I have playing with me, which I didn't have for the first album," she said.

Casey's own talent no doubt shone through however, as her debut album resulted in an invitation to record in the United States at a renowned studio. She decided though to instead record in Wellington with the musicians who helped her form the new album's unique sound, heading into Surgery Studio to work with award-winning producer Lee Prebble.

"It was amazing working with Lee Prebble, he is incredibly skilled, talented and experienced," she said.

"He has this great way of facilitating things and making everything easy."

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Despite great guidance though, Casey said there were still plenty of challenges recording The Seats In My Car.

"It was an incredibly challenging project, especially as a solo artist - you question yourself the whole time," she said.

The release show and tour kick-off will be held this Friday, July 26 at 8pm at St Peter's Hall in Paekakariki, where the audience will be treated to Casey performing with the entire band from the studio album.

The tour will then continue throughout New Zealand in July, August and December and to the US in September, Casey said.

For more information visit www.stephcasey.com