‘I LIKE to think of it as the sweaty groin of London,” says Storm The Palace frontwoman Sophie Dodds of Villiers Street, a pub-pocked thoroughfare running between Charing Cross and Embankment.

The street was part of Dodds’s daily commute during the nine years the Edinburgh-born songwriter lived there, and it takes centre-stage in the dramatic opener to her band’s debut album Snow, Stars And Public Transport.

Built upon a fluttering Yann Tiersen-like piano figure, The Moon Above Villiers Street swoops and surges like a bird taking in the human action before rising into the clouds again.

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The video by artists Robert Powell and Jenny Paine takes the perspective of the moon seeing all below, perhaps including the demonstration which inspired Dodds to write the song.

“I think of it as a protest song really, though it may not be an obvious one,” she says.

“Robert and I were at primary school with each other, and our minds seem to have evolved in similar ways. I like the contrast between the cool, detached moon and the throbbing heart of human civilisation below.”

Sweaty groins are not evoked by the album, a collection which instead takes in elements of modern Scottish folk, Latin-influenced rhythms and the baroque pop of 1990s debonairs Jack and My Life Story. It’s confessional cabaret with a sense of restraint, Dodds’s cut-glass vocals adding to the chill of these tales set in a capital city seemingly trapped in an endless winter. Dodds, a songwriter since childhood, began writing these songs to help “process life and the world” around her.

She then began developing them online with Edinburgh-based pianist Reuben Taylor, noted for his work with Meursault and James Yorkston.

As well as London-based drummer Gordon Webster and bassist Sam Wilkinson, the album features mandolinist and backing vocalist Pippa Murdie, Dan Simons from CYMBALS and Liverpool Philharmonic double bassist Jamie Kenny. She met the latter three while living in what they nicknamed “the palace”, a sprawling Edwardian flat very different to the cramped attic she then moved to, and from where the album’s rooftop cover image was photographed.

She wrote from that room, or during her long hours on public transport.

“Buses and trains became this liminal space for me,” she says. “If you’re crammed into the bottom with screaming children, it may not be best for songwriting, but ideally you’ve got a seat on the top deck of the No 48 and you can just get lost in your notebook.”

Themes of transition, and of being “home but not quite home” recur throughout the record. Perhaps it’s the nature of the city itself, Dodds says.

“My friend runs a blog with stories from people from Syria. He was paraphrasing that thing Theresa May said about ‘if you’re a citizen of the world you’re a citizen of nowhere’ and said ‘if you’re a citizen of London you’re a citizen of nowhere’. I think everyone who lives there has that sense of not really belonging, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

Sat, Glad Café, Glasgow, 7.30pm, £6. Tickets: bit.ly/STPGlas
Sun, Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh, 7pm, £5.50 adv, £7 on the door. Tickets are available from here.

Snow, Stars and Public Transport is out tomorrow via Abandoned Love Records

Check out the band's website.