By CAROL BYRNE
GLASWEGIAN singer-songwriter Eddi Reader released her 10th solo album on February 7. For many this would be a milestone but for Eddi, she admits she’s not keeping count.
Asked if this is, in fact, her 10th solo album, she says, “Oh Jeez I don’t know. I don’t really count”. She acknowledges that such was the extent of the material created for Vagabond that there was enough to create an 11th album.
Naming a collection is always a bit difficult for Eddi and she says she typically goes for a song title.
“This calls to attention one of the songs but also I try to find the most apt expression of what I think the album is. Vagabond is about travel and I think that’s what we all are as human beings. We get up walking and start experiencing life until the end of it. Within that we have all our adventures and hopefully it turns us into the people that we want to be,” she says.
The track was inspired by the poem, Vagabond, written by John Masefield.
“We got a book of his poems from my brother-in-law as a Christmas present and I was flicking through it and both my husband and I loved it. We were dog-earing some of the pages and I thought that this one would be a great song. I’m always on the look-out for inspiring lyrics and I love it when you find something that says exactly what you actually feel about something without you knowing that you even feel it.
“I’m interested in the wealth of the human brain. I like quotes, I like good couplets and I love people that can gather a good perception who can describe a door to you that makes you see the door in front of your eyes, rather than ignoring the door,” she says.
For this particular album, Eddi says she was more involved in the editing process and she feels closer to the end product on this record.
“I love live playing, so a lot of the work I’ve done in the past has been everyone in the room and we get the song down and then we mix it. This time yes we did that, we were all live in the room but I then spent time editing and cutting out bits and pieces. For example one song, which isn’t actually on the album, called Argyll is about the beauty of Argyll and I just love it. I feel like I’ve turned my back on it a bit because I couldn’t fit it on. It would have weighted the collection in a certain way. I ended up re-recording a four-minute song but I only used the introduction and I looped that and then I sung over the introduction because the introduction had more of the flavour that I wanted rather than the body of the song. Things like that were happening all through the summer,” she says.
The process yielded 27 new pieces of music but unfortunately not all could make the cut for the album. They have led to some new collaborations, such as input from multi-instrumentalist Gustaf Ljunggren from Sweden, who was introduced to Eddi by Cathy Jordan.
“I’d send him things and I’d say in this line I sing ‘for this star above me, 10 more have loved me’ and he would provide me with these sounds that were like stars opening up in your eyes and pin-pointing themselves in the sky at night,” she says.
While working on this album, Eddi also sang with her son and mother but they did not make it onto this album and Eddi says they are being worked on for a future record.
“I have used a tape of my granny that I taped in 1985. She’s been dead since 1988 but in 1985, I managed to tape her talking about backing the dogs and I turned that into a song. It’s about being in Tralee. She used to talk to me about going into Tralee. She left Tralee when she was 19 and she spent her summers there but she never went home really. In this one particular tale, she talks about the dog track in Rock Street and she made me think Tralee was this paradise,” Eddi adds.
Although Eddi has no specific connection to Clare, she does have roots in Ireland with her granny on her mother’s side hailing from Tralee, County Kerry, while her great-grandmother on her dad’s side is from Lurgan in County Armagh. Her husband, John Douglas, has Connemara roots.
“His grandfather was part of the Keane family of Connemara. His father’s brother was Colm Keane, who wrote all the songs Seamus Ennis collected. We went to Connemara to find my husband’s roots, and found out not only that he is connected to Connemara but he is part of this song-writing dynasty that is very famous in the traditional scene in Ireland,” she says.
She says she always enjoys coming to Ireland and no matter whether it is Galway, Kerry or Clare, she finds “you are made to feel so at home, wherever you are and whoever you are”.
When she comes to Glór next week, she says the audience cannot only expect to hear some of her new stuff but also her favourites across her wide-reaching repertoire.
“I will play stuff from all the different albums. I will certainly be playing some of these new songs. I have my favourites. Since the Robert Burns album, I don’t know how I survived before because I enjoy playing things like Willie Stewart and My Love is Like a Red Red Rose so much that I can’t imagine life without them. I can’t imagine what I had sung before I sang My Love is Like a Red Red Rose,” she concludes.
Eddi takes to the stage in Glór at 8pm on Friday night.