"I don't know if it's something to do with the kind of music I play or just the type of aura I give off," says Christopher Rees. "But I do seem to attract intense women with very troubled pasts."

A Welshman with an inbuilt love of Americana, Rees has recorded three albums of spectral blues and soulful country. 2004's The Sweetest Ache was full of epic orchestration. 2005's Alone On A Mountain Top was a record of rustic warmth. His latest, A Cautionary Tale, meanwhile, fulfils the emotive potential of his Tim and Jeff Buckley-esque voice with a collection of songs all about matters of the heart.

"A lot of the songs are little notes to self," says the songwriter. "I didn't write them this way but in some way they all relate to the seven deadly sins. Don't Let Your Heart Grow Cold is about pride and not allowing the b******* drag you down, not allowing yourself to lose your faith in romance just because of one bad experience.

"The title track is about, er, making certain assumptions about people's sanity and then giving into temptation and realising later that it's all been a terrible mistake. The last line's, Just think twice before you kiss, she may be a mentalist'."

As for Mary Lee, a murder ballad inspired by repeated listens to Harry Smith's Anthology Of American Folk Music, "that came out of something an old tramp heckled at me when I was walking home one night. He shouted, The good times always fade away my friend but so do the bad', which became the first two lines of the song.

"I've always been really fascinated by the whole dichotomy of murder ballads, which often have a really perky tune with all this really gory lyrical imagery. I wanted to create a song that would make people tap their feet and make their jaw drop at the same time."

On the new album Rees has drafted in American folk singer Victoria Williams, Belgian chanteuse Charline Rose and The Hot Puppies' Becky Newman in order to "actually bring that female presence into the equation and soften the edges on some of the more sinister, cynical tracks". But he has always shared the solitary aesthetic of his American heroes, and will tonight play solo with only his slide and harmonica for company.

"A lot of American reviewers actually think I'm from Kentucky or Louisiana," he says. ""I'd always had an interest in blues but my real obsession came when I discovered people like Son House and Fred McDowell and the really early Delta stuff. I spent some time exploring all the blues clubs in Chicago, seeing people with names like Will Smoking' Log from Texas. While I was playing pool in one I accidentally backed into this guy and it was Otis Rush, in a cowboy hat and everything!"

As to whether Rees has learnt anything from all these emotional notes to self he has been penning of late, he says he remains the cynical optimist: "I'm always prepared for the worst but hoping for the best, and I'm starting to think that's not a bad place to be."

  • 7pm, £6, 01273 680734