IT HAS been years since Scottish audiences have had a glimpse of Sandi Thom. She shot to fame as a young woman and has lived most of her life in the public eye. A success embittered, she was at times left beaten and bruised by the acerbic tongue of commentators and shunned by industry powers.

If anyone had needed respite from the music business…

The Banff-born singer is "home" now. Her career has kept her on the move, all over the world, to the tune of a certain restlessness. She became a mother in 2016 – something that helped to reshape her priorities. And, of course, the last few years of her life were spent in the Middle East where she worked to raise awareness of animal rights and to build shelters.

A change of perspective does not come around too often for many. For Thom, it may well have been an opportunity to recharge and rediscover. But there was never any real chance she would stay away from her first passion. Now, she comes back into the fold, in a sense, re-born.

"People change," she tells The Weekender, now 16 years on from the release of her first single I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (with Flowers in My Hair) – a song that launched her career and spearheaded her chart-topping debut album Smile… It Confuses People.

She continues: "When I first experienced fame, I was really young. I was in my early 20s. Musicians never stay the same, they get better. Hopefully, what I can do now will be a cut above what has been put out in the past."

Her time in the Middle East has certainly been informative. She was able to pour herself into something away from her career and take stock.

Thom had made a promise to take up the work of the proprietor of an animal shelter who had passed away. She had pledged to take up the mantle and "carry out his vision of building another shelter" which she has since seen through, true to her word. But she never left her life behind.

"I never stopped writing," she says. "I had so many ideas that I could back and sift through. Songwriting never left me. Once I had fulfilled my promise, I had achieved what I set out to do, so I felt it was time to come home."

Thom's most recent album Ghosts was released in 2019 but failed to garner the attention it should have. Tracks such as This Feeling, World War One, Angel and I'll Carry You stand as a testament to her songwriting credentials.

Album #7 is on the cards. Entitled Wanderlust, it is tentatively scheduled for release in early 2023, accompanied by a book on the singer's life. The remainder of 2022 will be spent re-acclimatising to the scene, before building up to that real comeback era.

"There is still a lot more I want to accomplish in my career," she says. "I, sort of, got lost in the animal rescue efforts for the past few years of my life – it is just so easy to get drawn in by it all. But it was time to come back and pick up where I left off with my career, which was around album number seven.

"I've been away for enough time, that there are a lot of people who are genuinely excited about me coming back," she continues. "And at the same time, there is a whole other generation of people that are just learning about me.

"I've had a warm reception to everyone in the industry that I have met since coming back in. It's been great to be rehearsing and writing again. It's just been really refreshing; it's like being a kid again. There is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm for what I might do next. Everybody loves a comeback."

Thom's absence from the stage has been due to come to an emphatic end later this week. The singer was set to perform at Breakout Festival in Kirkcaldy – an event set up to show support for the NHS – only for the event to be cancelled.

She will, however, play a show in Aberdeen on June 24 with a gig in London in early July.

On her return to the stage this year, she says: "It's a been a long time since I played a festival in Scotland, but I realise just how excited I am at the prospect of being on stage again.

"I have a few gigs around the UK as well and a few more festivals.  But I've only just got back home; I'd imagine next year will be much more busy. The new album will be around the first quarter of next year, with the book out around the same time."