Reader has a beautiful voice. This generous collection of strong and very listenable songs puts it in the spotlight.

Label: Reveal Records
Time: 30 tracks / 125 mins

Eddi Reader MBE is probably still best known as the voice of Fairground Attraction, so you would expect their ever-popular “Perfect” to be on here. But I had forgotten that they also had success with “Find my Love” – a simple acoustic gem that seems to reflect hints of music from around the world.

But most of her 30-year career has been as a solo artist in the folk world. Several songs from the prolific pens of Boo Hewerdine and John McCusker find their way onto this fine collection, including the memorable “Muddy Water,” which is a definite highlight here.

A few years ago, she released an orchestrated project celebrating the life of fellow Scot Robert Burns. Several tracks from that collection are featured here, including traditional favourite “My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose.” The only track from that work that was not penned by Burns, but which was included to show how his muse lives on (“Wild Mountainside”) is also a very welcome inclusion.

Reader’s songs are more for the heart than the head. “Galileo” implies the question of what science can and can’t deal with, but it is essentially a romantic piece.

To give this set a balanced roundness, she finishes it by spanning two centuries, singing Amy Winehouse’s “Love is a Losing Game” and the classic “Moon River” - and her treatment of that standard does it the justice it deserves

Reader sings very clearly and her voice is definitely in the spotlight. Virtually every track couches it softly in delicate instrumentation, sometimes Celtic (“Willie Stewart”), occasionally retro blues (“Snowflakes in the Sun”) and sometimes jazzy (“Baby’s Boat”).

Even though she gets very few writing credits and she doesn’t really do gritty, she gives songs her heart and you feel that she really means everything she sings, infusing the tracks with a gentle authority. If Over the Rhine were Scottish, they may have sounded a bit like this.

My only gripe would be, not with the music (although a little more variety might spice it up), but the dearth of information and background in the basic packaging. Reader has won much respect over the years and deserves more than a couple of pictures, credits and a tracklist.

Simply put, this is a strong and generous collection of very listenable songs that all fit beautifully together.

Derek Walker