Over two decades on from her first flush of chart success with Fairground Attraction, Eddi Reader is arguably having her most successful critical period of her career as she continues to fly the flag for folk and traditional music. The release of her 'Peacetime' album, her second album focussing on the work of Scottish poet Rabbie Burns allowed RoomThirteen to catch up with her. Along with the idea of Scottishness, traditional music and what the Brits mean to Eddi Reader, a shared background of the south side of Glasgow gave the interview a more personal touch.

R13: You've recently released your second album featuring the work of Scottish poet Rabbie Burns. What inspires you the most about his work?
ER: Even dating back to my Fairground Attraction days in the 1980s, we did a Burns song on a B-side, and I guess I've always liked traditional music. When I was working away from Glasgow, I was told there were a lot of people up here playing that sort of music and I should come back home and get involved. They also introduced me to songs that I only vaguely knew so the whole thing developed well and I've learned a lot and fell in love with a lot of songs. Something like 'Ae fond kiss' still sounds lovely to me.

R13: Do you feel this is partly due to the rise of Scottishness and patriotism of late or mainly for your own enjoyment?
ER: I come from a culture where we sing and we are aware of our history and culture. Im not interested in borders but I am interested in cultural borders. I'm not sure if there has been a massive rise in that but I feel more people in England are recognising the importance of tradition. It's not only in Scotland but places like Manchester with their work songs or Portsmouth and their sailor songs have all these great traditional songs that used to mean something to the people and I'm glad that's coming back. The Maoris in New Zealand have a tradition where new people to their group have to sing a song to introduce themselves and their background. I sang a song from 1917 that my gran used to sing at New Years parties and that was me, they could tell my roots.

R13: Whilst we are on the subject of history, it turns out we both share a Secondary school, Bellarmine in Glasgow. Did you know it's recently been demolished and turned into a shopping centre?
ER: I did know that, I was driving by that way recently and I saw that. The area has changed so much, I went past the street where my grandparents lived and that's all gone now as well. Its progress and it was a tough place at times but it was great and made you what you are today.
(After a brief aside about teachers we had in common and how Eddi never liked the English teachers much, the interview resumed, focussing on the current tour.)

R13: How is the tour going?
ER:It's very early and hasn't really started yet. I did some solo work, played with Willie Nelson and now we've got the whole band with us and I'm enjoying it and looking forward to doing more. You never know how long you'll get to tour the album properly so yes, it could be good. We're doing a lot of touring around the record as well, so we'll get to a lot of places.

R13: Did the Celtic Connections show in Glasgow feature the same set list as the rest of the tour?
ER: Yes, I was really wanting to promote and play this album. The album lasts just over an hour and the show lasts for two hours, so we can play the whole show and still add in some other tracks. I love this album and I really want to play it and want to present it to as many people as possible.

R13: How are you before your live shows, do you still get nervous?
ER: I was nervous because its new songs but usually I'm not too bad. There has been times when we have been playing with an orchestra that you get really nervous because they are all lined up to come in and you don't want to mess them up. I have all the lyrics written down but I'm getting by without it so far.

R13: Any other musical ambitions you would like to achieve?
ER: Definitely. I would love to do an album of beautiful 1950's songs, like Rod Stewarts 'American Songbook' with a big lush backing, something with all these songs that I love and would love to sing. I'd also like to do a jazz record, a nod to the singers that educated me.

R13: You are now viewed as a major act in the folk scene and your popularity seems quite high again. How does this latest flush with fame feel compared to your previous band and solo efforts?
ER: I feel I'm more the master of my own destiny at the moment. There are worries about will anyone turn up to a gig but I suppose that's normal, if you are a contract plumber you will be worried about the next contract coming in, so that's okay. When I had chart success with the band, it seemed very rushed and we had to hurry everything and this success had to be protected.

R13: Its getting near Brit Awards time and you've had Brits success before. Do you have any interest in this years event?
ER: No. I don't mean that in a bad way because I've had my time and even when we did win, who is to say if it was deserved or justified. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that Lilly Allen and Amy Winehouse are involved and I know I'll watch it and if I had the chance to go and crane my neck watching people, it would be great. However, theres something wrong about the awards, its all about who makes the most money for their companies and you can see these managing directors sitting there enjoying the night and their wages and that's just a bit wrong.

R13: There is something wrong about the way that music can be judged and give awards because its surely subjective?
ER: Yeah, its good for people to get recognition but its more about the industry thing, so its good but maybe not for me anymore.

R13: What are your hopes for the year ahead?
ER: Just be healthy and look after my kids and really enjoy life. Music is life but life isn't music and you have to remember that.

The final parting indicates a woman who realises that there is more to life than music but the overall interview clearly showed the spark and enthusiasm that Eddi carried for music, not only her own but of any kind that she can enjoy and lose herself in. Its perhaps not an album that will turn the majority of RoomThirteen readers on but its hard to fault the enthusiasm and drive on show from Eddi Reader.