Eliza Carthy, Rough Music (Topic Records, 2005)

Despite her young age, Eliza Carthy has already thrust herself into the highest ranks of the English folk music scene. The daughter of legendary folk musicians Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, she is equally comfortable performing with her parents in the group Waterson Carthy and as a solo artist. Carthy has tried a lot of different things on her solo albums, from working with a full electric band on Angels and Cigarettes to trying out different combinations of performers on the more purely folk Anglicana. On her latest album Rough Music, Carthy enlists the services of a backing band which named themselves the Ratcatchers. Ben Ivitsky (viola and guitar), John Boden (fiddle and double bass), and John Spiers (melodeon) complement Carthy's vocals and fiddle perfectly, and the result is Carthy's strongest solo record to date. Most of the material is traditional, excepting one original song "Mohair" and a cover of Billy Bragg's "King James Version." Carthy has always had an excellent voice, and the songs on Rough Music meet her previous standards, but she and the Ratcatchers shine the brightest on the instrumentals. The standout track is "Cobbler's Hornpipe," a 3/2 hornpipe from the north of England played like an energetic Scandinavian polska. Rough Music is a fine example of how traditional music can sound fresh, exciting, and even innovative when performed by a combination of creative and talented musicians who have a great chemistry together.

Overall grade: B+


Kathryn said...

Regarding Eliza Carthy's "Angels and Cigarettes" album, to me it's somewhat overated. Did the critics fell over it because Ms. Carthy writes songs about how the "boys" disrespected her. As a world weary feminist, I think the "Forty Acres and a Mule" social justice battlecry can never de a just reparation to the injustices that women suffered since the begining of time. You may contact someone with the same views as me at http://bonesbrain.blogspot.com .
P.S. Inspite the radio friendly arrangements of the Angels and Cigarettes album, it can't hide Ms. Carthy's somewhat off key singing or is this a period piece where "Middle A" is tuned at 430hz.

smg58 said...

Wow, I didn't even know that Angels and Cigarettes got noticed by anybody for it to be overrated. She did seem a bit out of her element at times on that particular disc though, and her lyrics were blunt in ways that didn't always make her seem sympathetic, so I wouldn't call it her best effort.