Album Reviews

Eddi Reader – Love Is The Way

(Rough Trade) UK release date: 13 April 2009

Eddi Reader was due to release a ‘best of’ collection this year, but when checking in to the studio to record the mandatory ‘bonus’ tracks such things demand, she had half an album before she knew it.

Sufficiently impressed, Rough Trade coughed up the readies – and the long player was finished in just three sessions.

Love Is The Way captures the spontaneity of this creation, Reader holed up in the depths of a flat in Helensburgh with her guitar and several musicians for company. By the sounds of things, the days marked a complete switch of mood for the former Fairground Attraction singer, seizing the chance to try her hand at more popular singer/songwriter material.

With her recent well received Robert Burns settings this is a calculated risk, but anybody wary of that decision won’t regret investing in this, as a blissful hour awaits.

As the title implies this is a collection of songs about love – some wistful, some yearning but nearly all breathing a sigh of contentment. Reader manages to convey her positive emotions without resorting to slush as well, with some beautiful asides. Boo Hewerdine co-writes once again, the two song smiths painting charming sound pictures to match their descriptive words.

The John Douglas song New York City tells the story of a longing for the big apple where, furnished late on by cello, “it’s just like the movies” – the New York of King Kong, you suspect, rather than American Psycho. Meanwhile, “You told me I was good luck, I’m seventeen in Kilmarnock,” she sings in Never Going Back Again (Queen Of Scots), a clever Fleetwood Mac/Reader hybrid.

These early tales of romance leave her besotted. “Fantastic things begin when I am in your arms,” she sings in It’s Magic. Love Is The Way, a Declan O’Rourke song, encapsulates the album’s instinctively romantic side and picks up from Silent Bells, where Reader sings, “all that we are without love is silent bells”.

There’s a lightly playful side to Reader, too, as she sings of featherweight nature in the warm hearted Dragonflies and the shuffling Dandelion, where “it’s so good to see you fly”.

On her MySpace site Reader tells the story of the album’s genesis with a refreshing frankness. She ends with a plea, “My history is well known, and if you happen not to know it, good! I am starting from here.” Fresh as a daisy, then – just like this record.

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Eddi Reader – Love Is The Way