Yeah, it’s a bit of a sweeping statement and there are, of course, some exceptions to the rule but, when all is said and done, 2017 has offered slim pickings in terms of truly great albums. One notable exception is Mariam Wallentin’s second Mariam The Believer outing, Love Everything, which arrives this week, some four years after her victorious debut, Blood Donation.

With her fingers in many musical pies - not least a decade-long collaboration with husband, Andreas Werliin, on their much-loved percussive project, Wildbirds & Peacedrums – it is to Wallentin’s huge credit that she manages to pour so much emotion, depth and quality into each creative outlet and that, despite many artistic distractions over the past couple of years, she has succeeded in crafting a record which doesn’t only circumvent the “difficult second album” debate but also offers a riveting new direction. This new direction is both loyal to the quintessential Wallentin sound and, at the same time, explores a simpler, more poppy sensibility. And it works.

Recording was completed last autumn, at which point Wallentin held a listening party for her best friends. It was at that stage that she decided to edit the record down from 13 tracks to the 9 finalists which inhabit Love Everything. In this, the first interview she has given in support of the new album, Mariam The Believer speaks to The 405 about her work on Love Everything, the challenges of running one’s own record label and her touring plans.

You finished making the album over a year ago. What happened next?

I played it to a group of my best friends last November when I was about to go and mix it. I invited some good friends including childhood friends - people that I really trust but who didn't work on the album. We had some wine and we listened to it through and they were cute enough to write down comments and really personal thoughts and expressions and that was really helpful. I've done that once before and it's just so nice when people who really know you but don't necessarily come from the music background... like one of my friends is a dancer and she thinks of music in a totally different way and that's nice because it gives you a way to zone out a bit when you're deep in your own work. Before that party I thought the album was a finished product but afterwards I took away some songs - I threw away four of them. They're great songs but I realised they made for a logical separate EP.

Will they ever see the light of day at some point?

Yes, they will. For sure.

You wrote Blood Donation in just two weeks. Was the writing process for Love Everything similarly quick?

It took a little bit longer [laughs]. Blood Donation was a very focused writing process. After releasing it I was ready to make a new album. But then a Wildbirds & Peacedrums album happened and then FIRE Orchestra happened and then I was in a play and, you know… there were too many fun things I couldn't say no to. I kind of spontaneously wrote the songs for Love Everything in between other things. Me and Andreas went on holiday to Vietnam and then I had five days on a beach and I actually wrote a lot then. I'm really bad on vacation that way. I get so inspired by letting go of touring. You see other things, you grasp them and then you want to express them and put your thoughts down. So I would say, on and off, the writing process took about a year.

For me, Blood Donation was an album I had to sit down and really get to know. And the time investment was very worthwhile. By contrast, Love Everything feels much more immediate and hits you instantly. It's much more direct and, in a way, quite poppy.

Ummm... I don't disagree but maybe it's because you also know me and my music better now. Blood Donation was, for me, trying to find a new output that would be rewarding, that would be a new dimension for me to express myself in. Maybe I am now more secure in what I wanted to grasp or express. The way of writing... the songs still push in a particular way. Yes, there are more direct pop songs on this record but I also think that, because I used the keyboard a lot, there is even more of a... layer of space in the sound than on Blood Donation. I think that is also a contributor to it having a direct feel. What I wanted to express this time round was more immediate, yes. So I'm happy that you can hear that.

You toured with Ane Brun extensively a couple of years ago. Do you feel that being exposed to another musician's way of working and performing for such a relatively long period has influenced your work?

Other people always influence me. I feel very lucky to be able to be close to great musicians. Both solo artists and musicians who I play with. In terms of that tour, for me that was quite a big challenge. I also played quite a few shows with Damien Rice and I was doing some solo performances with both of them and that was actually a bit challenging because I threw myself into deep water. I thought I was a brave musician in so many ways and then suddenly I felt anxious and scared and lonely being on the stage all by myself. The experience of trying to make something big and grandiose with just myself was a challenge. It was like, ok, 'how do I go through with this?' It was a very good experience because I also realised that, even though I am stubborn in a way when I have my own ideas, I got reminded that I really need other people. I don't want to be a one man show. That experience really transferred into this album because I chose to invite a lot of musicians into the process, when recording.

Were any of the new songs you played on your support slot on that tour picked up for the new album?

Yes. 'Bullies'. It sounded completely different then. I had a sort of R'n'B idea for the sound of that one. So I played guitar and a drum beat on the refrains that make it sound like a heartbeat. And so it sounds totally different on the album.

Is there a track on the album which you feel particularly drawn to?

Spontaneously, I would say no [laughs] because they are quite different, even though some of them access the same themes and, lyrically, work around the same core. But they are very different in terms of atmosphere. I guess I am really happy with 'Bodylife'.

That happens to be my favourite track on the album. Can you tell me a little bit about it?

For me, it’s a dance between life and death. It’s about the body, quite simply, and about what it carries inside as well as the acceptance of dying.

The other shining highlight on the record, for me, is 'Crust' - the first taster you released from the album back in January. What was it about 'Crust' that made you choose it as the calling card for Love Everything?

Because it consisted of a lot of the elements that the rest of the album has, all focused in one song. It's a very hopeful song, ultimately, and I wanted to start off that way, somehow.

The album is coming out on your own label, Repeat Until Death. What brought about the move from Moshi Moshi on which Blood Donation came out?

It felt like a natural development for me. It was ten years ago that Andreas and I released our first album as Wildbirds & Peacedrums on the Leaf label. We have been so lucky to be on these still-independent labels with great history and back catalogues. But I also realised that I've learned a lot from that, like the fact that I really value my freedom. Stephen Bass from Moshi Moshi and I had a great collaboration on that last album but I released it myself in Scandinavia and it felt freeing to pull it off. It is a whole lot of work and I don't have all that time so we'll see if I can find a good balance. But I really want to build a home for my music and all my projects with this label.

Is having enough time the biggest challenge to being an artist and simultaneously running one's own label?

There are a lot of challenges but not all of them are bad, you know? I'm quite alone in it, which also makes me realise the importance of having good people to work with. Good distributors, for example - I've been really lucky with that, so far. I don't know all the processes but I am also not afraid to ask questions when I don't know something. The hardest thing can be to be an artist and also then having contact people directly - I don't see it as a problem, necessarily. I say “Hi my name is Mariam, I run my own tiny label and I have this music - would that be of interest?” Sometimes it doesn't work but sometimes it actually does.

You're coming back to London in November…

I always love to play in London because London is such a music city and has always been very welcoming with all of my projects.

Where else have you particularly enjoyed playing?

Spain, Italy and also Poland - I played there a few times. It's nice to play small places where maybe not a lot of bands come to. That's also great.

There were a lot of gigs in support of Blood Donation. What's the touring plan for this record?

I'm actually planning a small tour: a week in Europe which starts in London. Then… I guess there will, hopefully, be a tour in the spring and maybe some festivals. It all depends on how people like the music. I'm excited for people to hear the music - both to let it out and also to be able to move on and develop from that and see where I go next. Sometimes you don't know until you've put it out.

Love Everything is out this week on Repeat Until Death. Mariam The Believer plays The Lexington on 29 November.