Louise Redknapp is back with her first album in 19 years and a major UK tour.

Her very personal and long-awaited LP Heavy Love was released on January 18 and the tour kicks off in Southampton at The 1865 on March 12.

Louise, 45, who rose to fame as one quarter of the pop super group Eternal – the first girl band ever to sell over 1 million copies of an album with their 1993 debut Always & Forever – is delighted to be reigniting her pop career in the city.

"I did a few gigs 18 months ago but nothing on this level. Southampton is kind of quite a 'biggy'. I think opening nights are very special nights – you certainly have the adrenaline flowing! Everyone is looking to see what you are going to do and what it's all about! I think Southampton is a very nice place to start and it's not very far from my home in Surrey to come."

She agrees The 1865 is a great live music venue and adds: "This tour is all about the live event, about the band and about the songs. I want it to be very current and I'm working with lots of artists who are having hits.

"I will be doing some of the old catalogue, but I've also got the new album.

"Some of my songs are 25 years old so it will partly be a trip down memory lane, but I don't want it to be a nostalgic concert. For me it's all about the live element."

Louise has had 18 consecutive top 20 singles, six with Eternal and 12 solo. Her debut solo album Naked sold more than a million copies and over all she sold more than 15 million records worldwide and five million records in the UK. She gave it all up when she married ex-footballer Jamie Redknapp and became a full time mum to their sons, Charley, now aged 15, and Beau who is 11.

Jamie and Louise tied the knot in June 1998 and shunned a huge, showbiz wedding. They got engaged and married all in the same week, while on holiday in Bermuda. Louise was just 23 at the time.

"I was in the early stages of having a family. It's lovely being a mum and I thought when they are older it's something I will go back to, but you can't just go back.

Luckily, I've got great management and some great songs. I feel very lucky that I've had four songs out, the album in January and I get chance to tour.

"I love both making records and performing live. The studio is very cathartic. “

As for the inspiration for her song-writing she says: "For me, it has to be either about me or people close to me and things I've seen people going through."

The singer’s marriage breakdown came shortly after her stint on Strictly Come Dancing in 2017.

At the time, it was suggested Louise, who was partnered with Kevin Clifton on Strictly, had found a new lease of life on the show which sparked the split.

She denies the BBC One series had an impact: "My marriage went deeper than a TV programme.”

But she says: "The programme really reminded me of how much I love performing and singing."

So, have her own experiences and the break-up of her marriage influenced her new music?

"Absolutely. It doesn't mean it's a sad album. I don't bash anyone but it comes from a place people can relate to. The song Not the Same features a big gospel choir. It's upbeat but the lyrics are quite sad. I find it hard not to wear my heart on my sleeve. I don't talk about my marriage break-up but going through that is an issue I couldn't ignore. I talk about how I felt as a woman and being empowered and grabbing life by the horns.

"It's like life. It doesn't matter who you are and who you are married to – it's just life. I can listen to an interview or read poetry and think 'wow, I'm not the only person that's gone through that'."

Since competing on Strictly, Louise has also loved being part of Dolly Parton’s stage musical version of hit 1980 film, 9 To 5.

“It’s hard work, doing eight shows a week, but it’s a fun, uplifting show,” she says.

Strictly had been the beginning of her comeback and a stage role in Cabaret followed, but she is adamant she only did the reality show for fun.

“I didn’t go in with a view of thinking 'I’m going to have a big career afterwards', I did it because I felt I needed to do something for myself. I’d been asked many times before and turned it down, because the kids were still quite young.

“But I got to the stage where I needed to have something for me again, because I felt out on a limb and wasn’t sure what to do. I think the time was right for me to try something, and it just happened to be Strictly.

“I fell in love with performing again and realised how much I missed it and, off the back of it, a few people said would you fancy doing some singing again or a West End show.”

I remark on the stunning images that have been released to accompany the new album and tour and ask how she manages to look so good.

"It's good photography!” she tells me, laughing modestly.

“I'm a woman like any other on this planet. I have days I feel great when I'm firing on all cylinders and other days when I'm tired and my jeans feel tight. "

Is a reunion with Eternal possible?

"I don't think it's something out of the question. It's definitely something I would like to do again. It was an amazing band and we had an amazing album. We left the door open.

"I missed seeing the Spice Girls reunion tour as I was doing a West End show. I was gutted. I know the girls and I was super-pleased how well it went."

And finally, does she still spend time in Dorset and Hampshire where the Redknapp family is based? (Harry Redknapp and wife Sandra still live in a stunning property at Sandbanks).

"Oh yes. Jamie's parents and the children's cousins are there and they are so close to their cousins and I'm extremely close to my sister-in-law so we are there a lot. I love spending time there walking my dogs on the beach – I absolutely love it."