EDDI READER – Cavalier (Reveal 077CDX)

CavalierForty years into her career, Reader’s 11th solo studio album, Cavalier, continues the recent trend of mixing original and traditional material with, naturally, something from Robert Burns.

Recorded in Glasgow and co-produced with husband John Douglas, and featuring a plethora of musicians, Boo Hewardine, John McCusker, Siobhan Miller, Phil Cunningham and Michael McGoldrick among then, it opens on a traditional note with the gently waltzing Irish tune ‘Maiden’s Lament (An Charraig Donn)’, with whistles, Martin Kershaw’s clarinet and Miller and Annie Grace on backing. The first of the original numbers comes with the poppy Douglas co-penned ‘Wonderful’, a song about learning to let go of trying to control your children’s lives as they transition to adults, the collaboration (along with Simon Dine) also providing the hushed slow waltzer ‘My Favourite Dress’, a nostalgic song reminding how short life is, written for his aunt Mary, in care and suffering from dementia.

It’s Douglas who provides the equally poppy, R&B brass-embellished uptempo title track about sharing the load, his other credits including the slower sway of ‘Fishing’, a number about learning that troubles always pass, even rainy evening, and the following ‘Maid O’The Loch’, a number written as a fundraiser to refurbish the titular boat that takes tourists around Loch Lomond. He also shares a co-write with Phil Cunningham on the gradually swelling ‘A Sailor’s Farewell To The Sea’, the latter putting words to the latter’s Christmassy instrumental and featuring both brass ensemble and accordion.

Hewardine provides two numbers, the first being the 50s-like jazzy shimmering, brushed drums, clarinet and brass-kissed ‘Starlight’ (to which Reader added a final verse), given a Mills Brothers-styled arrangement. The other, ‘Old Song’, takes on a very Scottish waltzing feel courtesy of Alan Kelly’s accordion, a romantic hymn to how music can touch memories and lift hearts.

Turning to Reader’s solo material, coloured by whistles and accordion, ‘There’s A Whole In The Desert Dear Darling’ is a swaylong waltzing lullaby of sorts written in memory of Milou Bedssa, a close friend from her teens who had recently passed away. The other is the album’s penultimate track, the lovely, ukulele-accompanied, percussion rippling ‘Go Wisely’, another song for the kids, both a benediction as they embark on their own lives and a reminder that phone calls don’t cost a lot.

Which just leaves the other traditional numbers. Given a rolling and tumbling Celtic rhythm, ‘Meg O’The Glen’ takes its lyrics from two 18th century poems by Paisley’s Robert Tannahill telling the tale of a lass of low fortune being forced to marry a rich old man she didn’t want, song seguing into an instrumental coda of Jerry Holland’s ‘Brenda Stubbert’s Reel’.

Found among songbooks during a late relative’s house clearance, picked out on the harmonium inherited at the same time, ‘Deirdre’s Farewell To Scotland’ is based on the Celtic myth ‘Deirdra Of The Sorrows’, about a pregnant Irish girl forced to seek sanctuary and the fate of her daughter, the story resonating with the contemporary refugee crisis.

Learned from a version by American jazz singer Kurt Elling, ‘The Loch Tay Boat Song’ is familiar number of love and leaving in the Scottish tradition, here given a laid back late night jazz arrangement for Steve Hamilton’s piano and dedicated to Davy Steele. It’s followed in lively fiddle-laced and wheezing accordion style by ‘Pangur Bán And The Primrose Lass’, a cocktail of an Irish poem about a cat hunting mike (the title translates as White Cat) that rolls into the instrumental interlude, a tune that apparently appeared on an early 70s Steeleye Span album as ‘The Primrose Lassie’, originally collected by Douglas’s great uncle, Irish song archivist Colm Keane. It features Monica Queen on harmonies, prompting thoughts that’s she’s long overdue an album of her own.

And so, Douglas on piano and McCusker on fiddle and whistle, it ends with another nod to her favourite Scottish songwriter, a four verse version of Burns’ classic ‘A Man’s A Man For A’ That’. She says she chose the album title to reflect how she’s feeling. The thesaurus defines it as offhand, high-handed or careless, but also, as a Caballero or a Quixotic figure. Long may she tilt at windmills.

Mike Davies

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‘Wonderful’ – official video:

Eddi Reader announces new album

Eddi Reader

Eddi Reader announces her brand new studio album Cavalier released worldwide on September 28 by Reveal Records.

Featuring sixteen songs, including recently performed live favourites ‘Wonderful’, ‘My Favourite Dress’, ‘Starlight’ and ‘Maiden’s Lament’, the new album was recorded and produced in Glasgow, Scotland by Eddi Reader and John Douglas.

Cavalier is a new creative peak in an already prestigious career, just under an hour of new music, incorporating both contemporary and traditional songs.

From the traditional to the contemporary, Eddi brings joyous life to all forms of song. Her taste in co-writers, writers, songs and players is impeccable and anything with her name on it is guaranteed musical treasure. Whilst the perfection of her technique is widely acknowledged, what sets Reader apart is the depth and quality of the emotional performance; her ability not only to move the listener but to connect her experience to that of her audience. Her passion and instinct move people in a way reminiscent of those who have influenced her work. Her rare blend of meltingly true vocals and towering romanticism combine with an astute and pragmatic nature to make her a unique and powerful figure in contemporary British music. She has effortlessly developed into one of popular music’s most thrilling and affecting performers.

Eddi is celebrating her 40th year as a live performer, a career which started in 1978 singing on Scottish country rock tours, then appearing on worldwide festival and concert hall stages with Gang Of Four and Fairground Attraction through the eighties and onto her own successful solo live career, which continues to this day.

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‘Wonderful’ – official video:

Eddi Reader: new EP

Back The DogsEddi Reader releases a new five song EP Back The Dogs on November 3rd. Featuring four well chosen covers alongside Back The Dogs from her highly acclaimed 2014 album Vagabond (Reveal Records).

Recorded by Mark Freegard in Glasgow, Juxtaposed With U (Super Furry Animals) and Love Is A Losing Game (Amy Winehouse) feature Eddi singing and producing accompanied by Scottish songwriter (and husband) John Douglas of Trashcan Sinatras.

“One of the great voices in British music” Acoustic magazine

Also included on the new release are emotive versions of the Evans/Livingston standard Mona Lisa and Moon River (the latter produced by Boo Hewerdine and featuring Eddi with full orchestra). Moon River has played a central part in her concerts over the last couple of years. It recently became a huge hit with audiences attending this years Vagabond concerts when Eddi extended the piece to include stories of her musical childhood experiences at family parties in Glasgow tenement flats.

Eddi Reader will take to the road in October for the final shows of her 2014 Vagabond tour (see dates below) joined by her incredible band which includes Irish accordionist Alan Kelly, John Douglas (guitar and vocals), Kevin McGuire (bass) and English songwriter / guitarist Boo Hewerdine.

2014 has been another successful year for Eddi Reader with many high profile concerts and appearances for national radio and television including Jools Holland, Cambridge Folk Festival 50th Anniversary, Question Time, Terry Wogan and Andrew Marr Shows. Her music was also used in the closing credits for this summers Glasgow Commonwealth Games. An interview by Neil McCormick for the Vintage TV channel airs in September online.

MOJO **** R2 ***** Record Collector ****  The Herald ****

Irish Times Album of the Week **** Folk Radio UK Album of the Month

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