Eddi Reader spent the latter parts of the 80s fronting London-based pop band Fairground Attraction, before the ‘Perfect’ act fell out and fell apart, a huge turning point in her life. Reader took some time to adjust. In fact, her return took quite some time to bed in, but when it came, it was in the form of a gorgeous folk act, one that’s had far more longevity and depth than her pop beginnings could ever have predicted.
Now, in her 60s and based firmly back in her native Glasgow – Scotland is a key part of her inspiration – Reader’s life has an entirely different gloss, one that feels more in her wheelhouse. In fact, she’s now touring in celebration of her career’s longevity, later than intended. “Everybody and their granny is fighting for the venues and shows, so I’m very lucky, the only casualty has been Tralee,” Reader laughs, as her Irish tour gets set to kick off next month, arriving in Dublin in June.
In fact, the forced down time of covid had Reader exploring her back catalogue, and prompted something of a re-evaluation of what came before. “I left things in the cupboard and didn’t bring them out for years,” she laughs. “On [new album] ‘Cavalier’, I had too many tracks. I’m such a creature of spontaneity that I don’t look back in that way so often with music.”
The aforementioned ‘Cavalier’ is a glance at Reader’s history and a rediscovery of work that dates back to earlier in her career – not quite the pop days, but these tracks certainly shine. As does Eddi, with the prospect of a return.
“It actually took a couple of the players that I perform with to remind me that while I wasn’t getting back into a studio anytime soon – I did wonder if I’d ever be able to do this again – and suddenly I had all these tracks that I’d just kind of forgotten about,” she says of the record. “The time passing has been better for them, too, as my critical ear has dropped away. I can hear myself almost like I’m another musician. Sometimes you need a bit of a distance to see the glint of the diamonds. I love this stuff now, I’m amazed that I put it away at all.”
“I’m a creative piece of flesh and blood,” she laughs. “Whatever I’ve been given on this earth, it’s been more artistic than academic. I’m not a mess academically, but poetry and literature and painting, people like Robert Burns and the way people write things down are something I’ve fallen into, and I love resurrecting ideas, and finding little bits of joy in life.”
“I think you get that from older artists. They say most of the same things we say today, but in certain artists it’s ageless, it just shines. I don’t need my artists to be born after 1970, you know? And when I find something I like, I want to paint it, sing it, write it down and decorate it. To make something out of it.”
“The poetry, music, painting, and so on, they come together in my head. It’s the emotion that connects the art, be it a painting on a wall or a piece of music, and then that it makes sense to me. You can look all you like at something and never really get it. You have to get the emotion first, and that’s the playground I feel like I play in. I’m not sure I provide that thing that people stare at for ages, but I certainly try to.”