For Mary Black, her new album "Stories From the Steeples" feels like the beginning of the next stage of her career.
The Irish singer celebrated her first 25 years with a special collection in 2008. And at the time, she says, "I was thinking, 'Well, this might be a nice way to make my last bow and maybe call it a day." But she thought too soon.
"('Stories From the Steeples') was like a new baby had arrived," Black, 57 -- who became a grandmother last month -- says with a laugh. "It kind of came out of nothing and suddenly became this big thing. I think every album is kid of a new beginning in a certain way, but this one felt very easy for me to produce -- and it's certainly been a busy year for me because of it."
"Stories From the Steeples" is Black's first set of new material in six years, and it features duets with Janis Ian and fellow Irish singers Imelda May and Finbar Furey. Black won't promise that her next album will come sooner, but she does say that despite earlier reticence she's happy to have something fresh to sing.
"I'm actually enjoying it. I love it when I have new material," she notes. "You do get tired of singing the same old songs. I know I have lots of albums and songs to choose from, but it's a huge injection of energy for me and the band when we've got new material to perform.
"I think when you get older you appreciate things like that more, whereas when I was younger it wasn't an issue. You just look at things different when you get older and your perception changes. Things become more precious, I think."
Mary Black performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $40. Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.