Scottish singer Eddi Reader grew up in Glasgow but moved to the Ayreshire countryside (birthplace of Robert Burns) when she was a teenager. As Reader tells it, the move saved her life by not only removing her from a semi-blighted urban predicament, but also by introducing her to what she's described as "an alternative Scottish beauty and language." In her passion about music and arts she learned about Burns. She learned some of his poetry but associated him with high culture, something slightly remote from her life. Later she learned to appreciate that Burns was a "spokesman for the glorious in the ordinary, the sublime in the mundane." And Reader eventually came to see the poet's influence everywhere in Scotland. "We are all Robert's babies." This album, released in 2008, features 18 of Burns songs, including "My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose," "Brose and Butter," "John Anderson My Jo," "Ye Jacobites," "Green Grow the Rashes O," "Ye Banks and Braes O' Bonnie Doon" and "Auld Lang Syne." Many of these songs will be familiar even to those listeners who didn't associate the words and melodies with Burns. Reader and her collaborators worked hard to retain the off-the-people spirit of these songs of passion, protest and festivities. Don't expect a posh and solemn affair. None of this is drenched in bagpipes. But Burns, like Shakespeare or the standards of the Great American Songbook, is sturdy and versatile enough to shine under a variety of approaches. Fans of singers like Rickie Lee Jones and the McGarrigle Sisters will appreciate Reader's boldness and earthy yet beautiful delivery.
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