The unstoppable force that is Eddi Reader

EDDI READER is something of an unstoppable force. Despite repeated injuries to her back and ribs, the celebrated Scottish folk-rock singer is touring Ireland this month and has a new album set for release in April. As far as she is concerned, life is very good indeed.

Eddi is a regular visitor to Galway - both as a touring musician and in a private capacity. Her next visit will be when she plays the Town Hall Theatre on Monday February 23 at 8pm.

Her last visit to Galway was during a torrential downpour in June.

“I’m always blown away by the town,” Eddi tells me during our Thursday afternoon conversation. “The last time I played it was really, really, thunderous and wet and Westlife were playing in the football stadium.

“There were 400-600 people came out to see us and I was amazed. You hear people aren’t going to gigs anymore and that they don’t come out when it’s wet but what a reception we got! The organiser Mick Crehan, a lovely guy, looked after us and made us feel really special. We went to The Crane afterwards. I was never there before but it was a magnificent night.”

On that occasion Eddi was not long out of hospital after fracturing her ribs. Some months before she had to cancel some Irish dates after injuring her back. Surely Eddi couldn’t make it an unfortunate hat trick of accident prone behaviour and personal injuries before she comes again?

“I’ve cracked my ribs again!” she laughs. “I was dancing with Kris Drever in a gay bar. I wasn’t drunk but I ended up slipping. I had a back operation in April. I can walk fine but I’ve no nerve endings so I can’t feel my feet. I was told the nerves have to grow back. I’m 5ft 11 so I’ve quite a way to fall, but I’ve learned how to fall now. But even if I nudge my ribs they seem to break. I’m going to have to wear a suit of armour.”

At her Town Hall show Eddi will perform songs from her forthcoming album Love Is The Way - named after the Declan O’Rouke song which Eddi covers on the album. It will be released on Rough Trade records in April.

Eddi produced the album, personally chose the songs for it, and arranged them. Her choice of material was guided by the theme she wanted the album to convey - about how joyful and wonderful each moment is. What has led Eddi to become so optimistic?

“You spend a lot of your twenties the thirties struggling with personal issues like ‘Who am I?’ ‘What am I?’ ‘Am I dirt in the gutter or am I Elvis?’ and then you have family and that takes over and you have to focus on other people’s needs,” she says.

“My kids are 16 and 20 now and I have more time for myself. I’ve come to a place where I feel more carefree, like I was at 19 - I don’t have the body I had at 19. I think you can go two roads. You can be annoyed with everybody and feel life is over or you can see every day, even the crap, as an opportunity. I focus on that and hopefully I have another 30 years. I don’t know what it will bring.”

Eddi can also be optimistic that the album will receive a good reception from the public and critics, especially after a curious incident in her own back garden.

“I was playing it in my garden the other day and I was inside and I thought it was like listening to a live band,” she says. “There is a lane at the back of my house and the people there - there is a lot of restaurants and cafés - could hear it too and they thought it was a real band as after the songs they were clapping! That was really good.”

Speaking of albums, Eddi’s inspired The Songs Of Robert Burns (2003 ) was re-released last month in a de luxe edition, featuring the original album with bonus tracks ‘Ye Banks and Braes’, ‘Aye Waukin O’, ‘Leezie Lindsay’, ‘Dainty Davie’, and ‘Comin’ Thro The Rye/Dram Behind The Curtain’.

“I’m very proud of that album,” declares Eddi. “I made that album to come home from London to Glasgow about seven years ago. It’s about my journey back to Scotland. It was a return to my roots.”

The album was a celebration of the songs and lyrics of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759 - 1796 ), the nation’s national poet, a cultural icon, and a pioneer of the Romantic movement. Like all Scots, Eddi feels a close association with The Bard of Ayrshire.

“Robert Burns came from the same area as my mother so I felt a connection to this guy,” she says. “I related a lot to his passion. He was attracted to his muse and didn’t like selling it for money. I decided I could try and serve him by trying to represent the songs well.”

There is no other poet, certainly no European poet, who has such a place in the heart and indeed the psyche of a nation that Burns has in Scotland. Why is he so central to what it means to be Scottish?

“It’s like having Bob Dylan in your town,” says Eddi. “He was a clever, clever, boy and a boy that was from the dirt and rocks of rural Ayrshire.

“When he came to Edinburgh people were amazed that someone from that background could write, could speak French, knew Homer and Greek literature, and that he wrote in the Scottish vernacular. He used words like ‘arse’ and told people who they were.

“He keeps being re-generated and rediscovered all the time and when people read him it’s a case of ‘this guy has everything to do with me’. We hold onto him because he tells us who we are.”

For tickets contact the Town Hall on 091 - 569777.

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