Eilidh Patterson – This Is Now (CD Review)
1. Lydia 2. Grand Scheme Of Things 3. Sometimes I Pretend 4. Whatever The Weather
5. That Was Then, This Is Now 6. Chances Are 7. Thought You’d Be Mine 8. This Room
9. My Love 10. Breaking Up The Concrete 11. It’s Alright 12. You’ll Soon Be Home
Label – Eilidh Patterson © 2011 Eilidh Patterson
Release – September 30, 2011
UPC – 0609132758485
Time – 49:45
Genre – Singer/Songwriter
Two years ago I was introduced to Eilidh Patterson’s music on a live radio broadcast when she was appearing at The Belfast Songwriters Festival in America. I was floored hearing songs like ‘Still Learning’ from her debut album WHEN THE TIME COMES. She eclipsed many of the major artists appearing there. Fans of American songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman will already be acquainted with Eilidth as she has lent her voice to the BACK TO LOVE album as well as opening for and singing back up vocals as a member of her band on tours in the UK, The Netherlands and on dates in America and similar plans could well unfold down the 2012 pipeline. Since meeting Chapman at a song writing retreat at The Giants Causeway in Ireland she has somewhat taken her under her wing and become something of a mentor to her in recent years, saying: “Eilidh Patterson’s voice is velvet and air. The richness of her sound and her songs is something beautiful to behold and she is definitely an artist to watch!”
Exactly two years on, this sophomore album THIS IS NOW is a dream come true for the 28-year old Derry, Northern Ireland born and Belfast based Eilidh (pronounced I-Lee , a Scots-Gaelic name meaning Helen or ‘ray of sunshine’) . She started taking piano lessons as a 6-year old and in her late teens developed a love for the guitar. At the age of 17 she dreamt of recording an album in Nashville and this year it materialized! She has made about a dozen visits to Music City over the last 4-5 years making many contacts in its vibrant community. In February 2011 she met songwriter / producer Lee Holland at a House Concert in Nashville. Patterson was drawn to his musical style and approached him with the idea to produce her album. From those Wintery months things quickly snowballed and she returned in the summertime to record in old school fashion, 12 songs in 12 days, at Hill Studios on Music Row, engineered by Brad Hill.
As well as producing Holland plays electric guitar, 12 string guitars, drums, bass, percussion, background vocals and throws in body slaps for good measure too on this project. He compliments Eilidh on her straight forwardness and a purity which comes through in her voice and song writing skills. Of the 12 songs she wrote 11 and co-wrote the other on this digipac presentation complete with lyrics.
The standout acoustic opener ‘Lydia’ sets the tone for what is to follow. This gentle Celtic flavoured number features soft accordion by Jeff Taylor (Elvis Costello, Vince Gill) who also adds piano, whistles and pump organ on subsequent tracks. As life goes on this sweet song tells of an Easter newborn child – “Once in a while a baby’s smile will melt your heart like snow melts the snow” sings Eilidh and also advice when those school days arrive – “it can be your oyster if you let it, girl”
The fast moving ‘Grand Scheme Of Things’ has a catchy chorus and ripping electric guitar solos which looks at the wider picture of a little girl, now a grown woman, prepared to live life to the full, experiencing both the joys and pains that colour her years, but with no regrets.
The beautiful ‘Sometimes I Pretend’ with its delicate piano and gentle cello (Justin Saunders) has a magical openness and ambience. It relates dreamy thoughts back to when love felt fresh, cast like a whirlwind on starlit nights but has sadly become extinguished adjusting to life’s pressures and changes. The female protagonist isn’t seeking perfection but longs for a house that once more feels like a home, with love that can be renewed.
On the questioning folky ballad ‘Whatever The Weather’ a simple gratitude is imparted, despite the changing seasons of life, to a partner for the companionship of each passing day, after lonely hours endured end when love is found.
The atmospheric and slow paced title cut ‘That Was Then, This Is Now’ with its weepy pedal steel Kenny Hutson (Vigilantes of Love, Kim Richey) relates a sad tale where love has gone sour and the master plan is shattered. It was written when Eilidh was an eighteen year old. Guest player Ron Block of Alison Krauss and Union Station fame adds some delightful strokes across the dark landscape on resonator guitar.
On the break-up song ‘Chances Are’, after untruths, miracles seem but a distant reality to re-ignite a passion to lighten a heavy heart. With the echoes of a hollow pump organ ringing out the emptiness, pain and heartache spills over onto ‘Thought You’d Be Mine’ as a couple have gone their separate ways. It’s time to move on and not dwell on the past, on the dark ‘This Room’ despite compelling feelings to stay remembering those fonder memories left behind.
The wispy ‘My Love’ reaches out to a lover and serviceman in a distant land but the affection is so strong it remains beside her.
On the brighter mid-tempo ‘Breaking Up The Concrete’ love bursts to gladden a heart like a trees roots breaking through the cracks, but then thunder clouds loam over a relationship, reducing it to rumble.
‘It’s Alright’ written with song writing pal Ben Glover who hails from Glenarm, N.Ireland depicts a complicated world where love are but lines on a sandy shore that will be quickly washed away. After drawing breath those broken hearts thankfully heal – there is a silver lining.
The sparse closer ‘You’ll Soon Be Home’ was written by Eilidth in her late teens and its roots are drawn from an interest in gospel music when along with her sister and father (himself a gifted songwriter who didn’t pursue a music career) they played and were immersed in the genre as a trio. Songwriter Julie Lee adds backing vocals along with renowned musician and writer Tim O’Brien who plays soft fiddle as those pearly gates of heaven open at the end of a weary road. The album is dedicated to Patterson’s grandmother, who, at 95, sadly died during the recording process.
The quality of the production throughout is excellent, and is best appreciated on hard copy. Unfortunately I would have liked to have heard more light than shade and was left a little flat by its ending when listening from head to toe. Eilidh is a gifted songwriter, with a natural and clean vocal. I look forward to brighter, more upbeat tunes and variable subject matter in the mix on future projects.