Song of the Day, May 31: Snowflakes In the Sun by Eddi Reader

ReaderSnowflakesToday’s song is an inspired collaboration. Eddi Reader recorded her 2013 album Vagabond in a series of relaxed sessions, working with an extended band of friends. The result is a delight, blending many styles into a fun, cohesive whole. One of the best tracks was written by Reader with husband John Douglas and long-time collaborator Boo Hewerdine while the sessions were underway. Reader describes Snowflakes In the Sun in the liner notes.

Started by Boo, with John having a hand in the chords of it. Boo wrote some lyrics and a bonny melody that I cherry-picked and we all played it one night in my home. This is the first take.

That speaks volumes about the collaborative energy of the trio. A quiet, jazzy folk number, the song sounds just like that description — timeless magic. The lyrics are bittersweet observations of loss, told poetically. The instruments are light and gentle, and Reader’s vocal is powerful in its restraint. This is a fine moment in impressive careers.

Enjoy this beautiful song today.

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Song of the Day, November 12: White Lies by Boo Hewerdine

BooONWhiteMaster craftsman Boo Hewerdine is a busy man. The singer, songwriter and guitarist collaborates with a dizzying array of other musicians, performs live regularly, and records solo as well as with a number of one-off and long-term bands. He frequently releases EPs as he comes up with sets of songs that work together well. In 2005, he turned out Ontario, a charming set of stories. The highlight is White Lies, featuring a stunning vocal and surging folk-pop backdrop. A tale of willing self-deception, it’s a smart construction and a fine moment in an impressive catalog.

Enjoy this great song today.

Song of the Day, October 30: It’s A Beautiful Night by Eddi Reader

ReaderVagaBeautifulToday’s song is It’s A Beautiful Night, written by Boo Hewerdine for his 2009 album God Bless the Pretty Things. In 2013, his longtime friend and frequent musical collaborator Eddi Reader began working on Vagabond, one of her finest albums. She gathered a number of friends — including Hewerdine — and recorded a set of original songs and covers that had special meaning for her. The result was a casual but cohesive disc that captures her wonderful voice and shows off her flawless sense of song selection. With the album’s themes of wandering, loving, losing, and making the most of life, this is the perfect closing track. As Reader observes in the liner notes:

The theme of finding beauty in the moment is something that is very important to me. [Boo] nailed it in this lyric… A song to sing as dawn is approaching while you’re draped over a piano. Or waltzing with the company of old companions. This is for all the players and Mark for making these sessions some of the most beautiful nights of my life.

That sums up the feel of the song — and the album — perfectly. It’s rare that anyone outshines Hewerdine on his own songs, but Reader simply nails the observational beauty and casual joy of this track. Enjoy a perfect celebration today.

Song of the Day, July 21: Joke (I’m Laughing) by Eddi Reader

ReaderJokeToday’s song is Joke (I’m Laughing) by Eddi Reader. Taken from her second, eponymous solo album, it was written by longtime friend and collaborator Boo Hewerdine. Darkly ironic, it reflects on romantic betrayal, with the singer demanding an explanation, hoping against hope that the situation is a misunderstanding or a badly planned prank. With Reader’s beautiful, powerful voice, every anguished nuance shines with the fears, anger, and dashed hopes that resonate through the masterful lyrics.

D’you hear the one about
The one you filled with doubt?
Was it worth your while?

The way you kick a life around
Deserving to be underground
What is this?
Explain

Joke, is it some kind of joke?
Joke, I’m laughing, I’m laughing

Enjoy this brilliantly crafted song today.

Song of the Day, June 4: I Shake by Gregson and Collister

G&CShakeToday’s song is I Shake another standout track from Gregson & Collister’s brilliant final album, The Last Word. Written by Gregson and frequent collaborator Boo Hewerdine, it’s a potent song of frustration and determination. As an added bonus, it may be the only song to convincingly use the word “wheelbarrow” in its lyrics, something Gregson delightedly notes when introducing the song at live shows. The duo are in fine voice, moving through the powerful, painful lyrics with compelling urgency.

Enjoy this great song today.

Song of the Day, May 27: The Wishing Game by the Bible

TheBibleWishingToday’s song is The Wishing Game. Talented singer and songwriter Boo Hewerdine formed his second band, the Bible, with drummer Tony Shepherd and previous bandmate Kevin Flanagan and Clive Lawson. They recorded an EP and a couple of singles, building a devoted cult following. The band had a fluid lineup with Hewerdine and Shepherd the only constants. After some time touring, they recorded their only full-length original album, the charming Eureka. Producer Steve Earle made the most of Hewerdine’s songs and the band’s easygoing pop sensibilities.

The highlight of the album is The Wishing Game. Featuring an especially beautiful vocal from Hewerdine, it’s a pensive, wistful song about chances lost, missed, and pondered. The buoyant music provides the right hint of hope, limning the clouds with just the right amount of silver.

Sorry if I seem a little distant
I’ve got things on my mind
if I come to you without an answer
will I be left behind?
And do we learn to lose the wishing game

Enjoy this wonderful song today.

Song of the Day, October 31: Little Bits of Zero by Boo Hewerdine

BooHZeroToday’s song is Little BIts of Zero by Boo Hewerdine. Blending his pure, clear voice with a haunting melody, Hewerdine sings of a lost love and the hollowness it left behind. Demonstrating his typical knack for lyrical invention, he notes the “little bits of zero” scattered around the house with his lover gone.

I can’t stand it without you
I can’t stand it now you’re not here
And there’s little bits of zero
Little bits of zero
All over the house

Enjoy this powerful song today.

Song of the Day, May 16: Last Man Alive by Gregson & Collister

Gregson&CollisterLastManToday’s song is Last Man Alive by Gregson & Collister, from their final collaboration, The Last WordIt was written by Gregson with longtime friend and collaborator Boo Hewerdine and is one of the standouts on a phenomenal album. Collister uses her amazing voice to ache through the lyrics of anguish and lost chances.

You’re the last man alive
Lonely nights bring longer knives
For the last man alive
Close your eyes, count to five,
Last man alive

Enjoy this sad and powerful song today.

Song of the Day, May 15: 16 Miles by Boo Hewerdine

Hewerdine16MiToday’s song is 16 Miles by Boo Hewerdine. After two albums with his band the Bible and a critically acclaimed collaboration with “new Country” singer Darden Smith, Hewerdine set out to record his first solo album. The result, Ignorance, demonstrated the lyrical power that has earned him critical acclaim and numerous award nominations. The strongest track on the album is 16 Miles.

The song is an exploration of life, looking at the choices we make and the chances we may — or may not — take. Reflecting on a wide range of life decisions and events, Hewerdine frames each in terms of a journey. What if we abandoned the trip just before we reached its culmination? Delivered in his amazing voice with a simple but powerful backdrop, the song is one of the highlights of an impressive career.

Did you ever see London at night
And not want to go home?
Did you ever take drugs, stay up late
Just to see what you would see?
Did you ever have love and hate
Scratched across your hand?
Or did you turn round
With 16 miles to go?

Enjoy this powerful and passionate song today.

Song of the Day, January 23: Bell Book and Candle by Eddi Reader

ReaderBBCToday’s song is Bell Book and Candle by Eddi Reader. Written by her frequent collaborator Boo Hewerdine, it appeared on her fourth solo album, 1998’s lovely Angels and Electricity. It’s a quietly beautiful song, and Reader’s wonderful voice delivers the wistful lyrics with sad passion.

The title derives from an ancient Catholic ritual for excommunication which used the three title elements to bar the sinner’s soul from the afterlife. Over time, the phrase has taken on a broader mystical meaning, implying a ceremony to keep a harmful spirit away. In this case, that spirit is the painful memory of a lost love. This memory is so powerful that Reader must resort to magical forces to find peace.

White horses on a troubled sea
Your smile will flash through time
Up ahead a blackbird’s wing
Your hair will come to mind
Every night I see your face when I have to pray
I need a bell, book and candle to keep your ghost away

Enjoy this sad and lovely song today.

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