Eddi Reader

Peacetime

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2003's excellent Eddi Reader Sings the Songs of Robert Burns found the Glasgow native exploring her Scottish roots, a thread she continues to uncoil on Peacetime. Whether the piece is traditional or contemporary, Reader is a first-class interpreter of songs, and her abilities as a singer are indisputably rare. While she can wield her regional lilt like a highland princess ("Mary and the Soldier"), Reader never comes across as a Celtic folk singer. 2002's Driftwood found her tackling tunes from the pens of North American songwriters like Ron Sexsmith and David Rawlings, and Peacetime, despite its overall penchant for traditional works, feels more like that album than it does the Burns collection -- Reader's two duets with the Trash Can Sinatras' John Douglas are highlights. Produced by lauded fiddler John McCusker, who added a lovely brass quintet to the "Shepherd's Song," the arrangements are impeccable, though a tad on the safe, adult contemporary side -- both "Galileo (Someone Like You)" and the title cut are lovely but impossibly shiny, but fans of Reader and her closest contemporary Kate Rusby will find much to love here, especially on charming renditions of "Calton Weaver" (better known as "Nancy Whiskey" to all of you Pogues fans) and Burns' "Leezie Lindsay," and listeners who count the contributions of longtime guitarist Boo Hewerdine as high points of each album will love his superb "Muddy Water." [Peacetime was also released with a bonus track.]

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