A Singing Angel Sings Free...
Eddi Reader Since the early 80's Eddie Reader has helped define the landscape in which folk artists and singer-songwriters navigate. Her angelic voice and positive outlook have been a fixture in the British music scene since her band, Fairground Attraction, hit the charts with the song "Perfect" in 1988. After Fairground Attraction's breakup, Reader ventured onto a solo career, to the delight of both fans and critics. She is set to play an acoustic set in Tokyo next month, so we at Smash decided to call her up to hear what she had to say.

A native of Glasgow, Reader grew up listening to her Aunt and Uncle's collection of 60's singles and the radio. She came from a singing family, she says, where relatives would sing to each other at family gatherings. Putting all their passion into the song, she says, "you could actually hear an orchestra" accompanying them. "We didn't always hit the note," she reminisces, "but sometimes that was better because you knew they were putting all they had into it".
Eddi Reader Reader began singing at an early age. When she was eleven, she began to sneak into a local bar on some afternoons to sing to the early drinkers. She also took a job washing stairwells in apartment blocks. The acoustics here, she says, were such that she began to hone her vocal skills while working. Her real "apprenticeship" came when she took her voice to the streets. After she grew older, she moved from Glasgow to London, then Paris and Belgium. It was there that she played in the markets for spare change. "Singing there helped me find out what worked, what people liked," says Reader, "I knew what they liked when they threw coins".

Eddi Reader Like most people as they go through life, a lot has changed and a lot has stayed the same. Reader, now with two children, tries persistently to balance her musical career with her life as a mother. Her outlook on life, however is unchanged. "I just like singing to people," she responds after being asked what new and exotic places would she like to play, "The place is irrelevant. It doesn't matter where or who, just as long as they enjoy what I do and it strikes an emotion in them ミ like it does for me. I like to feel like I'm moving people, like I'm sharing with them."
Eddi Reader When asked about her song-writing process, she says that it is "all over the place". Sometimes starting with the melody, and sometimes with the words, she and her writing partner, Boo Hewerdine, piece together their music as a team, often changing the tone or theme. Much of their work, in fact, goes straight from completion to recording. "Sometimes," she says, I' m holding the lyrics we just wrote as we begin to record it".

Which brings the subject to the new album, Driftwood. Reader points out that "Driftwood is in many ways a companion album to Simple Soul[2001's release]. In fact," she says, "Both albums were recorded in [Hewerdne's] living room at the same time." The songs didn't make it onto Simple Soul because "..they were deeper. Actually, the first song on Driftwood is different version of [Simple Soul's] ‘I Felt A Song Go Through Me', and I think the version on Driftwood is better."

Eddi Reader Boo Hewerdine has been part of Reader's music for many years. They met at a difficult time in Reader's life. Fresh out of the breakup of Fairground Attraction and her marriage, she was in Soho, New York, when she heard Hewerdine play. She felt there was musical potential between them, so she asked him to join her. The rest is history. "I am spontaneous with my music," she says, "where Boo is more structured." The mix obviously works, since they have played together for over seven years.

Eddi Reader Reader and Hewerdine will be joined on stage by guitarist Colin Reed for a "Bare Bones" acoustic set for Japanese fans. There may also be some new material come next month, she says. But whatever it is, there will be an air of spontaneity to her live act. "I often use a set list" she says, "but if suddenly there is something I want to play, I play it. If my band doesn't know it, I just sing it by myself"

This show is a must-see for folk enthusiasts as well as the non-initiated. Her air of positivity and self-assurance are contagious, so check out her set and walk away with a smile on your face..

interviewed by jinki and photos by hanasan

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Eddi Reader


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Eddi Reader

"Simple Soul"
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"Candyfloss and Medicine"
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"Eddi Reader"
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"Angels & Electricity"
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buttonA Singing Angel Sings Free... : Eddi Reader (2nd Mar '02)
buttonHere come the people's music again! : OZOMATLI (24th Feb '02)

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