The skies might be contrarily unreliable, but the radio says otherwise – Summer is definitely here. How do we know? Because Eliza Doolittle is back, with not one but two tunes to blow the clouds away and brighten up the days. And, even better, following behind them is an album of equally mood-enhancing, life-affirming brilliance. The young Londoner who lit up the 2010 festival season and holiday airwaves with ‘Pack Up’, ‘Rollerblades’ and ‘Skinny Genes’ – is front and centre on a pair of songs set to define summer 2013. 
First off the blocks is ‘You & Me’, the collaboration with Disclosure. The club banger is already a chart smash, with Eliza’s vocals floating deliciously over the garage cut from young brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence. “It just reminded me of my clubbing days,” beams Eliza, “and we went in the studio one day and wrote it – the lyrics came to me just like that! It just happened!” Simple as that, although the foundations for the tune were laid over a decade ago when, aged 13, Eliza wrote her first song. “Jimmy Napes produced that song. I’ve known him since I was born,” says the 25-year-old. “My best friend is his little sister, and my big brother is his best friend. Jimmy had been writing with Disclosure, and he introduced us. I loved their song Latch,” she says of the Surrey duo’s 300,000-selling single, “so we just did it. For me that’s my first proper collaboration with anyone.” Contrary to the current pick’n’mix approach to guest turns and featured vocals, “I haven’t done much before, because I think anything I do musically should be very special rather than just working with just anyone that comes your way. Although that’s probably also down to the fact that I’m not very good at networking,” she laughs.
‘You & Me’ is followed by ‘BIG WHEN I WAS LITTLE’ - the first single from Eliza’s second album ‘IN YOUR HANDS’ - which is a gorgeous slice of sunny-day delight. The rolling rhythm and brass stabs echo the vibe of Eliza’s initial brace of hit singles, while the lyrics are a roll-call of the fave-raves from her youth: Strawberry Ribena and school reports, Malcolm In The Middle and Spice Girls, Lauryn Hill and Nirvana, club nights at Bagleys and Smirnoff Ice.
Just as it’s a bridge to her past, ‘BIG WHEN I WAS LITTLE’ is also a stepping-stone to the other musical treats on ‘IN YOUR HANDS’. “I don’t know how much my last album showcased me as an artist,” admits this exceptionally talented singer and writer who met her manager when she was just 15 and began work on her 2010 debut not long after. The album went on to sell 600,000 copies, largely the good-old-fashioned way: word-of-mouth and radio play. “There are so many people’s first albums that explode,” she reflects, “whether through hype or the music being great or having everything on their side. For me it was mainly the radio. I think that’s good in a way – now I’ve got even more room to grow and show more of my songs.”
Eliza began writing songs for her second album in September 2011, as the two-year world tour in support of her self-titled first album finally ended. “I toured South America, then I went straight from Colombia to Los Angeles to start work. And from that moment I’ve not stopped writing.” One of the earliest recording sessions was in London, with writer/producers Steve Robson and Wayne Hector. It resulted in ‘Waste Of Time’, a sun drenched, piano-based R&B number that instantly showcases her ever maturing, soulful voice. “On this whole album I’m singing more. I’ve always been able to sing but I don’t think I properly showcased it on my first album. It was a moment, it was a vibe, and the focus wasn’t to push the vocal – it was to hold back almost and give some sweetness or cuteness,” she concedes, “But this album, my passion is singing.”
She began writing the song at the piano, but acknowledges it wasn’t a smooth process. “It was an interesting journey this record…” she says carefully. “At the beginning I was overly controlling. And you can ask Steve and Wayne – they hated me. I wouldn’t let anyone do anything! I had a vision for the record, so I was being so anal about everything. This was for a couple of months at the beginning of the writing process. And eventually I had to take a look in the mirror and give myself a bit of a slap,” she admits. “I sat myself down and told myself I needed to just shut up, and let things flow. And from that point I just loved every moment of the writing.”
Eliza Doolittle insists this last statement is true, even though in the middle of the recording process, the emotional wheels fell off. She was in a relationship that, in the golden early days, inspired her to write the delirious ‘Don’t Call It Love’ and the euphoric dance tune ‘Walking On Water’. “And I wrote tonnes of those!” she laughs ruefully. “’Cause I was madly in love for a while. But ‘Walking On Water’ stood out as a good one.”
Then, the relationship ended. Cue two of the album’s heartland songs: the title track ‘In Your Hands’, and the sublime ‘No Man Can’. “I listen to ‘In Your Hands’,” she says “and I feel like I was in a bleak place. It was like I’d just given up – I didn’t know anything other than I had to be with that person, basically. And I couldn’t get my head round any other life.”
‘No Man Can’, on the other hand, is a wholly inspiring song of up-off-her-knees defiance. “That song,” she smiles, “that means everything. The whole album boils down to that song. It’s what I learnt through the whole process – no man can give you everything you need as a human. But it not just about men – you have to find that one thing that fulfils you without anyone fuelling it for you. And for me that’s music.” Eliza adds, “Although a break up triggered so much in me and I expressed it in some of these songs, the album comes together as a whole trip and experience, not just a break up.  It's a discovery album, of love AND life !  
‘Let It Rain’, slated as the album’s second single, meanwhile, is a tune apart, timeless in all the best ways. It’s big, bold and uplifting, and sure to be a killer live song when Eliza’s new band hits the road this summer. It’s the perfect example of what makes Eliza such a remarkable modern pop star and generational role model. She’s an independent woman with a golden songwriting touch, who’s all about honestly conveying her thoughts and feelings through her music, rather than through the pages of the tabloids.
“One of the things I have learned is that nothing is in my hands, which is why ‘In Your Hands’ is the title song. And obviously that song represents the state I was in – It’s so important to remember how and when you were at your lowest. By making it the title of my album, I’ll never forget. Also I love the idea of someone holding my record and it being a little piece of me – in your hands.”
Hindsight, of course, is a dangerous thing. But what does Eliza Doolittle think her second album would be like if she hadn’t suffered that cataclysmic split in the middle of its creation?
“Yeah, it wouldn’t have been half as good,” she smiles. “My pain is my gain.”