Folk meets Torch via a big dollop of the Blues
When Eddi’s original band, Fairground Attraction stormed the parapets of the UK Pop Charts in 1988 with Perfect; their quirky Folk Music was like a breath of fresh air in a sterile industry. Subsequently her solo career had some commercial success in the early years; but the ever smiling singer has continued unabated; rarely treading very far from that Folk path in the intervening quarter century.
Her tenth studio album; VAGABOND is undoubtedly a Folk album in spirit and often in style; but the golden thread that weaves all of the tracks together is Eddi’s love of the female singers like Ruby Murray and Alma Cogan her Mother loved, when she was growing up. No finer example is the opening track I’ll Never be the Same which has some delightful Hoagy Carmichael piano highlighting Eddi’s beautiful voice on a song that should be sung in a Speakeasy or dive Jazz bar somewhere Downtown.
The title track Vagabond is Classic Eddi Reader; gently strummed guitar; swooping accordion and harmonies so lush you could wash your hair in them; and the lyrics (adapted from a Masefield poem) aren’t half bad either.
Edinah is both lovely and interesting, as it was originally written in the wake of Amy Winehouse’s death and eventually tweaked to become a letter to Eddi’s own younger self and again has the feel of a Torch singer from 1964 about it.
Another song in the same lyrical vein is Midnight in Paris (1979) when Eddi recalls a starry eyed trip to Paris as a teenager and the result is absolutely splendid; evoking a romantic vision of a lost time.
As a long-time fan I’m so happy that Eddi has had a hand in the writing of the majority of songs here and on Pray The Devil Back to Hell she just might have written one of her finest; and the simple production and piano playing allows Eddi’s voice to express a beautiful sentiment.
There are a couple of traditional Scottish Folk songs to appease her older hirsute fans; but for me the finest song here is the finale, Boo Hewerdine’s It’s a Beautiful Night which goes back to where my review started; Eddi paying homage to her Mother in a song that was written for just such an occasion.
www.revealrecords.co.uk Reveal Records REVEAL 022CDX