ADDIE Brik has just been to the US Consulate in Edinburgh when The National speaks to her. A multi-disciplined musician, artist, writer and performer, the American expat is off to Portugal.

“I had to go through all kinds of creepy security stuff, but I passed, so I’m free again,” says Brik, noting how the good weather has made her a little loath to leave Scotland, specifically Alloa, where she lives with her dogs and horses.

The Portugal visit is at the invitation of an art gallery – a recce for potential collaborations with Brik, who last month released her extraordinary third solo album, I Have A Doctor On Board.

Collaborations and co-writes are Brik’s lifeblood, and her extensive back catalogue features work with a diverse collection of names from The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Simple Minds, Sugarhill Gang and Funkadelic to electronic eccentrics such as Plaid, Tarwater and Luke Vibert.

Largely written in a room overlooking the Firth of Clyde when Brik lived in Troon, I Have A Doctor On Board is also a collaboration of sorts. Among others, it features Thin Lizzy/Peter Gabriel guitarist and Seal co-writer Gus Isidore, Russian violinist Yuri Zhislin and Admiral Fallow’s Louis Abbott, who helped form the rhythm section and additional musicians.

Another collaborator of sorts was an inventor and lifeboat captain whom Brik interviewed extensively about his experiences.

“I kept A Dictionary Of Sailing with me all the time [writing this album] and noticed how the daily news was described so colourfully and neatly by random searches in my little red book,” says Brik of the 1961 dictionary written by FH Burgess.

“The language in it is so rich. If you scrolled through it, you would find terms which had resonance with ideas I had been percolating about what’s going on just now and where we’re going as a society.”

Brik would start with the song titles and develop the work from there. As with all 10 tracks here, songs such as Cape Flyaway, Velocity Made Good and Coffinships (a strident shanty about migration and the Highland Clearances) are as evocative, poetic and unusual as those titles suggest.

From technology to politics and press freedom, the breadth of subject matter is astonishing and shows Brik’s talent for poetry, something she started in her teens.

Back then, she was mentored by Allen Ginsberg and CBS journalist John Steinbeck Jr at the Naropa University, a liberal arts college in Colorado. Later, she joined a performance artist troupe at Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope studios and would work with the likes of Ed Harris.

Interviewing the Scottish lifeboat captain helped clarify Brik’s thoughts on relating contemporary issues to the metaphors gleaned from the sailing dictionary, she says.

“I wanted someone who was very richly steeped in this language, and the experience of being out at sea in dramatic, life-threatening situations,” said Brik, who produced the record at Glasgow’s Chem 19 with engineer Paul Savage.

“I also wanted someone who knew a lot about weather patterns, as well as actual things in engineering and science; things I could relate my poetry to.”

Brik says “about 98%” of the writing she did for the record remains in her notebooks, and describes it as “an exploration” of what she sees as a crunch point in human history. The National suggests her writing may be a valuable companion piece of sorts to A World In Two Minds, a recent book by Falkirk-based academic KW Jamieson.

Subtitled “Why we must change our thinking if we are to change our future”, Jamieson’s book, The National tells Brik, “is saying we need to grasp this opportunity to change things or ... ”

“Or ELSE,” Brik interjects emphatically. “I think if we all stay intellectually curious, it could be OK. But I worry there’s less curiosity, less debate, and a complacency about being herded into some sort of downloaded, communal club with little logical examination.”

Brik says the social contract between citizens and governments has been broken at a time when technology is making us lazier and more open to exploitation.

We can rush headlong into our own “uselessness and extinction”, she says, or head to “new heights of wisdom and evolution”.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about whether we’re moving towards a communal brain,” says Brik. “It is not so much that the ‘computer knows more than me’ is a frightening concept to me, it’s more that a government gets to own that computer.”

She adds: “Many people don’t engage and don’t question enough, and increasingly, when they do, it seems they are punished very harshly for it. It seems people who ask questions, young journalists especially, are going to jail. By any standard, it seems journalism has become a very dangerous job.”

I Have A Doctor On Board is out now via Itza Music