Eddi Reader

Eddi Reader

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On her second solo album, folk-rocker Eddi Reader moves from strength to strength. The first four songs pack an emotional wallop that might seem to be at odds with the sweet tunefulness and wispy arrangements involved: "The Right Place" is a gentle but firm assertion of romantic confidence; "Patience of Angels" depicts loneliness and despair cloaked in layered vocal harmonies and a quiet waltz rhythm; "Dear John" is perhaps the tenderest kiss-off song ever written; "Scarecrow" is about... well, it's kind of hard to tell what "Scarecrow" is about, but it's one of the prettiest pieces of jangle-pop you're ever likely to hear. After that? Well, "East of Us" is a little bit swampy, and "Howling in Ojai" is a (blessedly brief) self-indulgent waste of time. But in between you get the wry and relatively rockish "The Exception" and after them you get the wistful "Wonderful Lie," and "When I Watch You Sleeping" has something in the transition to the chorus that sounds like Peter Gabriel, in a good way. Over all of it hangs a certain je ne sais quoi that will have you going around hugging all your friends after the album's over. They may be annoyed, but you'll feel great.

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