Two names which show up commonly among the musical knowledgeable these days are those of Eddi Reader and Boo Hewerdine and after hearing Peacetime, it is easy to understand why. First thing I did after my first listen was to name search Hewerdine (I mean, with a name like Boo, you have to be curious) because there was something in the way his music fit Reader. Rather than being pummeled with a few bands of superstar status (it would not at all surprise me to have seen his name clicked with a band of so-called "status"), a few band names passed before the screen and disappeared almost before you could read them, the only one of evident worthiness (in terms of the Net search) being The Bible. An ensuing computer search for The Bible (the band) convinced me that Hewerdine is indeed worthy of the positive words placed upon his head. I mean, he proves it here, and this is not even his album. And I say thanks the gods for collaboration.
If I make this sound like this album is all Hewerdine, that is not the case. Reader brings a great voice and a whole lot of heart to the music and it really shines through. The music keys on the Celtic, but don't be expecting the harsh edge of the Celtic tradition here. While Reader evidently feels the need to sing and interpret the traditional, she does many of us a big favor—she leaves the traditional 'sound' behind. These arrangements are perfect for those who cannot take the fifteen minute medleys with the harsh bagpipes and shrieking tinwhistles. While I love Planxty and Silly Wizard and the plethora of bands who pay homage to the jigs and reels which set Celtic music apart, I occasionally have to take a break. It can wear you down. But not here. Reader somehow finds that middle ground, that mixture of traditional feel and modern arrangement which, when it overwhelms, does so through sound as much as emotion.
Step outside the traditional and you have some of the best light rock tracks going. Reader does a great job on Hewerdine's Muddy Water and the production is immaculate and gripping. Decisions, by John Douglas who plays acoustic guitar and sings on this version, reflects the late fifties when pop battled it out against folk and rock & roll for airplay, this one having the melody and lyrics which fit that era, intentional or not. Reader and Hewerdine combine forces to write Safe As Houses, a soft floating ballad bordering the finer music coming out of Nashville these days. Declan O'Rourke's Galileo (Someone Like You) gets superb treatment in both arrangement and voice, a song which would have been perfect for Karen Carpenter were she with us today (Reader acquits herself very well here, indeed). Peacetime, another Hewerdine gem, overlaps upbeat rhythm and a slow flowing vocal to reach its highs and it reaches them easily.
Back to the Net searches. I logged a handful of potential additions to my collection because of this album, some readily available and others probably hard to find. Reader's career has been in gear for some time and Hewerdine's as well and it will be intriguing backtracking the collaborations and histories in an attempt to see how they got to this point.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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