Reader is capable of so much more.
Sid Smith 2009-04-09
Having travelled a considerable distance since Fairground Attraction's Perfect was plastered across the nation's psyche in 1988, Eddi Reader has proven to be a durable artist with a real depth that takes her way past transient pop headlines.
From 1994's self-titled album (with the truly sublime Patience of Angels) through to more introspective and heritage-investigative works such as her Robert Burns project, Reader's been easing herself into the sweet spot that comes from great technique and a good nose for choice of material.
Having started life as a means of bolting a couple of new songs onto a proposed greatest hits compilation, the sessions for Love Is The Way grew into a fully-fledged album whose territory will be familiar to long-term Reader fans.
Gentle orchestrations, arrangements sparkling with countryfied twangs, rootsy accordion and sparse but effective guitar on songs as cosy as an old pullover on a wintry night.
Many of her regular repertory company are present and correct including Boo Herwerdine, with highpoints including Jack Maher's Fallen Twice which offers a sumptuous waltz of a track as well as the old-time charm of It's Magic, with Reader singing Sammy Cahn's schmalzy words with a knowing smile.
As good as all of this undoubtedly is, there’s also a woozy torpor to much of this album, in which Reader's spine-tingling voice often seems underused. You can't begrudge an artist the luxury of feeling comfortable in their own skin, but Reader is capable of so much more.