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A new album from Eddi Reader, a celebration of song and of singing that is as wide and deep as you might expect from someone with a back catalogue like she has. Recorded in Glasgow just over a year ago and featuring musicians who were in town for Celtic Connections, Vagabond is imbued with a wonderfully relaxed air, the sound of musicians enjoying where the song takes them.
Above all, this is a fantastically eclectic collection of songs: traditional Gaelic, traditional Scots, modern gems from the likes of Declan O’Rourke and Michael Marra, popular song from the 1930s, a few originals….it’s all meat and drink to Eddi Reader’s muse as she invites us to join her in her love of song. On the sleeve liner, she provides pretty extensive notes for each song – something about the song itself and something about the way they approached it in the studio – which add enormously to the pleasure of the music. Everything springs from a context and it seems a good thing if we, the audience, get some clues about where the artist is coming from.
The core band consists of Ewen Vernal on double bass, Alan Kelly on accordion, Boo Hewerdine and Ian Carr on guitars and John Douglas of The Trashcan Sinatras (many and varied contributions!). Guest appearances abound from many famous pals and the vibe is predominantly that of a wheezy, relaxed, slightly theatrical house band. Different flavours emerge with different arrangements; Married To The Sea, for example, has a beautiful, dreamy clarity to it as we drift away across the broad blue ocean in our minds, whilst In Ma Ain Country gets the most decidedly folk sound. There’s all-star support on this song from Donald Shaw, Michael McGoldrick and John McCusker and they collectively weave a bit of magic, whisking us away to a heather-clad hillside. My favourite track of all is the title song, a setting of a poem by John Masefield which works nigh on perfectly for me, a distillation of human dignity in the face of the enduring mystery of life.
A little bit of folk here, a bit of jazz there, but when it comes to it, this is all about Eddi Reader’s wonderful way with a song. She sounds so laid back and easy but she’s always in complete control of where she’s going with the song and it’s a pleasure to listen to her artistry. The sessions from which this album emerged apparently produced enough material for a second album, which will no doubt appear somewhere down the line. For now, though, we have fourteen fresh songs, nearly an hour of hugely enjoyable music from one of Scotland’s greatest musical talents.

John Davy

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April 2018

1
Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
PK,CVL,DHO,JB,LK
2
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
3
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
TJ,TK,MP
4
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
DD,GS,FS,HM
5
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
 
6
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
7
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental
AN
8
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
9
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
MF,HDB
 
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
JV
11
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
JSM,JD
12
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
CRS
13
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
SP
14
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
 
15
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
16
6 String Drag
21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
FCE,JS
 
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
I Need To Start A Garden
Mama Bird Recordings
 
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
RM
19
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
MVP,RK
 
Adam James Sorensen
20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
BM
 
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
LM
 
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
GC,EZ
 
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
SZ,PG
25
3hattrio
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
 
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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