Eliza Carthy, daughter of Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, is the most impressive and engaging performer of her generation. Not only an inventive, innovative singer and fiddle-player, she is a musical conceptualist who treats the bequest of the folk tradition with respect and knowledge – and, sometimes, with refreshing irreverence.
“The one indisputable young star of British folk.” The Times
On Rice Eliza Carthy looks afresh at British – and other – traditional musics.
‘If this is the future of British folk music, it is in good hands.’ - Mojo
‘Audaciously Brilliant.’ - The Observer
Album of the Year – Folk Roots
Nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize Album of the Year
It’s nearly 50 years since Martin Carthy recorded his iconic, eponymous first album and more than 20 years since his daughter Eliza Carthy’s recording debut. Throughout their respective careers both have toured and recorded with many others (Eliza shared the bill with her acclaimed mother, Norma Waterson, on their award-winning ‘Gift’ album in 2010) but finally, this trail-blazing dad and daughter have made their first ever duo album, The Moral of the Elephant which will be released on Monday 2nd June 2014.
Two tracks were released on a 7″ vinyl single for Record Store Day 2014 – Happiness, which was written by Nick Drake’s Mum, Molly, is one of a number recorded at home by her in the 1950s and only recently unearthed. It’s the first time this wistful song has been covered by a major recording artist. Meanwhile, The Queen of Hearts is a new version of a song which Martin first recorded on his debut album in 1965.
“This album is coal, not fireworks. It burns with the slow, deep flame which is the mark of timelessness.” Stirrings
“This is a magnificent album, bridging the generation gap and reminding the listener just how vital and pertinent folk music can be.” Record Collector
The full album features 11 (mostly) traditional music tracks, including The Elephant, on which the title of the album is based. It’s an interpretation of a setting of the 19th poem by John Godfrey Saxe, which itself is an adaptation of an ancient Indian parable.
Produced by Oliver Knight with Martin and Eliza, the duo reinterpret and revisit a number of songs on this stunning new album. Bonny Moorhen is about a fight between starving lead miners and a gang representing the landowners. Martin learnt The Grand Conversation on Napoleon from the Vaughan Williams collection at Cecil Sharp House, the home of the English Folk Dance & Song Society. This was one of many songs by the English proclaiming their love of Napoleon who they hoped would rescue them from poverty. Monkey Hair is a song by late Michael Marra about a Scottish minister’s wife who doesn’t want any more children as her husband keeps sending them off to war to be killed. Fittingly, several of the songs on The Moral of the Elephant take the form of conversation between parent and child.
Track List :
Her Servant Man
Blackwell Merry Night
Grand Conversation on Napoleon
The Queen of Hearts
Here’s a short video where Martin and Eliza describe making the album and the material recorded:
The great family tradition returns to record their third album, this time as a four piece, with Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy and Liza Carthy joined by Saul Rose on melodeons and voice. The extended line-up results in a jewel of an album. Stand out tracks are Raggle Taggle Gipsies featuring Liza, The Bay of Biscay featuring Norma, the staggering instrumentals and Martin’s Bald Headed End of the Broom with New Orleans marching band added for good measure.
Norma Waterson vocals, triangle
Martin Carthy vocals, guitar
Eliza Carthy vocals, fiddle, viola
Saul Rose vocals, melodeon
Ben Ivitsky low whistle
+ The Phoenix New Orleans Parade Band
Another outstanding collection from Waterson:Carthy England’s leading folk group.
The core trio of Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy are joined by new member Tim van Eyken on vocals and melodeons. Also contributing to the album are Martin Simpson on guitar, Ben Ivitsky on fiddle and Barnaby Stradling on acoustic bass guitar.
A Dark Light, first released in 2002, reflects the influence on the group of some of the great singers from the tradition, and therefore features a selection including songs from The Copper Family, Packie Byrne, Seamus Ennis and Sam Larner.
• “This great album…bringing a creative continuity to some of the great source material of the folk revival” BBC Radio 2 folk reviews
Eliza Carthy and Norma Waterson are quite simply two of Britain’s finest exponents of traditional song. They have recorded independently and together on many occasions over the years. GIFT is the first duo release from this widely acclaimed mother and daughter.
With their rich, distinctive and authentic voices they have effortlessly engaged new audiences and admirers across the generations. Widely acknowledged leading lights of the folk scene with enviable international reputations, both have received numerous BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards during the past decade, and nominations for the prestigious Mercury Music Award.
GIFT is the album that their fans have been waiting for, and features an intriguing and powerful mix of traditional and contemporary songs. From traditional folk classics – Poor Wayfaring Stranger, Bunch of Thyme – through jazz-infused or Old Timey gems – Ukelele Lady, Prairie Lullaby – the album continues to enchant the listener. No matter what the origin, Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson bring all these songs to life with their great musicality and wonderfully compassionate voices.
Mojo Magazine has already declared GIFT to be “a classic” The album, produced at Panda Sound by Oliver Knight and Eliza Carthy, features a stellar supporting cast of friends and family, including Anne, Mike and Marry Waterson (vocals), Danny Thompson (double bass), Martin Simpson (banjo), Aidan Curran (guitar), Martin Carthy (guitar) and Roger Williams from Brass Monkey (trombone).
Eliza Carthy – “Eliza Carthy is one of the figureheads of the English folk revival…compelling” Evening Standard
Norma Waterson – “Possibly the finest English singer alive today” Mojo
ELIZA CARTHY & NORMA WATERSON’s splendid duo album GIFT scooped two awards at the prestigious 2011BBC Radio2 Folk Awards in London.
Album of the Year
Gift by ELIZA CARTHY & NORMA WATERSON
Traditional Recording of the Year
Poor Wayfaring Stranger by ELIZA CARTHY & NORMA WATERSON
Waterson:Carthy’s fifth album includes a characteristically eclectic selection of material from a formidable range of sources. Much of the album was recorded “live in the studio” with a view to retaining the essence of the group’s live interactive performance and this goal was successfully achieved.
With one exception, the songs are about people who, whether or not they were born under a Bad Sign, certainly come – one way or another – under the Bad heading. It is almost a given that this makes for a programme of interesting and intriguing material. The set includes an outstanding reworking of the Jerry Garcia classic Black Muddy River, previously sung by Norma on her award winning solo album for the Hannibal label.
• “the synergy is quite electrifying” Observer Music Monthly Magazine
• “I urge everyone who is a traditional folk music fan to buy it. As always with these great performers, it was a pleasure.” folking.com
• “Something special happens when the first family of English folk gets together…This is folk music at its unadorned and traditional best. The uplifting harmonies of Norma and Eliza bring a joyous exuberance.” The Times
This is the album that Waterson:Carthy have been wanting to make for a long time. In 1965, their forerunners The Watersons released the landmark album Frost and Fire – A Calendar of Ritual Magical Songs, and the concept continues to fascinate them. With Holy Heathens they have eclipsed even that seminal album, amd the sound is a resoundingly full blooded one. The resonant ensemble singing is bolstered by The Devil’s Interval, a young and exciting new vocal trio of Lauren McCormick, Emily Portman & Jim Causely. They are further accompanied by guitar, fiddle, mandolin, brass and percussion. This fuller sound harks back to The Watersons and Blue Murder, but surpasses them for sheer excitement and thrills. In Holy Heathens and the Old Green Man, Waterson:Carthy have produced their best album to date – no question about it.
- “Beautifully played and sung and illuminated by Martin Carthy’s scholarly sleeve notes.” ★★★★ The Guardian
- “Their singing elevates the soul. Eliza Carthy has rarely performed more evocatively than on her uncle Mike Waterson’s ‘Jack Frost’ and Tim van Eyken’s version of ‘On Christmas Day It Happened So’ makes you shiver.” ★★★★ Mojo
- “… Whether it’s the presence of The Devil’s Interval, the inspirational nature of the material or the power of the seasons, Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy sound positively reinvigorated in the midst of it all, their voices and total conviction immediately identifiable. It’s a genuinely uplifting collection with fire in its belly.” fRoots
- “Eliza’s singing of her uncle Mike’s ‘Jack Frost’ is simply stunning. You should buy a copy of Holy Heathens for everyone you know.” The Living Tradition
Winner of two Mercury Award nominations, three BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and numerous other accolades, Eliza Carthy is easily the most impressive and engaging folk artist of her generation. She has performed and recorded with a diverse array of artists including Paul Weller, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Joan Baez, Nick Cave and Peter Gabriel. And yet, while traditional music is her lifelong love, Eliza had always planned to stay with the songwriting thing she started eight years ago with “Angels & Cigarettes”, her only album for a major label. And a good thing for us that she did. Years in the making, Dreams of Breathing Underwater showcases a much more mature songwriting and performing talent – lyrically, musically and stylistically.
The overall spirit of Dreams of Breathing Underwater is one of coherent diversity. A chamber orchestra, Mariachi brass, grunge guitar, good-time jazz, sensual Edi Reader harmonies as well as Eliza’s inventive fiddle and earthy vocals provide some of the musical highlights of this highly original album. Early reviews point to Dreams of Breathing Underwater as being THE album of the modern folk movement.
- “… Eliza delivers a fizzing firework display full of colourful narratives and big characters… sends you home whistling. It’s quite a party” ★★★★ Mojo Magazine
- “It’s a fizz-bang jamboree bag of an album exploding with ideas, unexpected tangents and corking story songs.” fRoots
- “Vocally and lyrically, this is Carthy’s strongest album. Add a beautifully designed CD package ..and you have one of the most startlingly original albums of the past year” Dirty Linen
- “From the ethereal wonder of Lavenders …….the experimentation works. Tha fact that it works is partly due to the musicianship…it can also be put down to Eliza’s magnificent voice – one of the finest you will ever hear. Dreams of Breathing Underwater is a brilliant album that deserves applause. This album shows just why she is one of music’s, and not just folk’s, most important and innovative artists.” BBC Online
- “Her most sophisticated album yet and one destined to win her a whole new set of admirers – the care and invention on display is striking.” ★★★★★ Observer Music Magazine
- “The twice-Mercury-nominated singer’s eighth solo album might just be her boldest, most varied, most wild adventure yet. First up is Follow The Dollar which packs a solid rock punch. Rows Of Angels has a hip-hop vibe. Mr Magnifico is a riot of mariachi horns and Lavenders is washed with ravishing contemporary atmospherics. This is the work of a wonderful artist who refuses to stand still.” ★★★★½ The Sun
- “It’s effortlessly confident, wildly varied and almost impossible to categorise. Magnificent.” ★★★★ The Guardian
Red presents original compositions with contemporary beats.
‘If this is the future of British folk music, it is in good hands.’ - Mojo
‘Audaciously Brilliant.’ - The Observer
Album of the Year – Folk Roots
Nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize Album of the Year
With an eclecticism characteristic of its members, Waterson:Carthy’s first album draws upon not only the archives of British folksong but a Morris tune and a Texas waltz. What is transmitted to the listener, however, is not so much the skill of their research as the virtuosity with which they breathe life into its matter.
The most accomplished and adventurous debut album the British folk scene has witnessed in more than 20 years, Heat Light & Sound declares Eliza Carthy’s talent as a singer and fiddler in songs and tunes from the British tradition.
- ‘A superbly assured debut album.’ – The Observer
- ‘The future of British folk music.’ - Mojo
The seven piece group Blue Murder, made up of Waterson:Carthy, Coope, Boyes and Simpson and Mike Waterson, has been described as “Harmony Heaven” and one listen is enough to explain why – seven of the greatest English folk voices performing together with passion and spirit. The repertoire ranges between great traditional standards, selected compositions and original songs by some of the band members. Whilst much of the album is the full glory of the seven voices, about half of the tracks have the added benefit of Martin Carthy’s understated but impeccable guitar work.
- “..seldom has the unadorned human voice sounded more exhilarating. No One Stands Alone is destined to be one of the best British folk albums released this year.” ★★★★ The Times
- “A glorious rush of perfectly pitched and counterbalanced vocals that offers up a spellbinding celebration of the human voice and makes this a firm contender for Folk Album of the Year” Netrhythms
- “…singing and harmonising…top of the range…selection of songs…spot on, but more than that, there is a startling chemistry about them. There is a real mood of spontaneity and the idea of a group united by..a mutual love of the songs they are performing. Stand-out tracks include the rousing Bully in the Alley, the sentimental Land Where you Never Grow Old, and the devotional Standing on the Promises of God. Choruses made in heaven all. It is an album of qualities and values. Timeless.” fRoots
- “The collective warmth of their intricately meshed harmonies fully bears out the togetherness made explicit in the title track. The septet’s burnished tones bring dignity and affection to their songs, with Norma Waterson’s commanding voice proud and plangent at its heart. – …beautiful renditions of traditional songs such as “Stars in My Crown” and “The Banks of Sweet Primeroses” tempered by the poignant sway of something like “The Land Where You Never Grow Old”. The Independent Review
- “Performed in a dazzling array of harmonies by the best singers in the business – exhilarating – majestic and heartwarming. Essential” Mojo
Rough Music is a step on from the multi-award winning Anglicana, and is a powerful, vital, multi-layered collection full of dark rhythms in Eliza’s vision of English Traditional Music for the new millennium. Her backing band, The Ratcatchers, includes her long time collaborator Ben Ivitsky, and two of the fastest rising stars of the folk scene, Jon Boden and John Spiers.
The album features dense arrangements of traditional songs showcasing Eliza’s incomparable voice as well as spirited, highly original performances of English instrumental music. Billy Bragg’s King James Version and Eliza’s own Mohair complete the unique blend of old and new.
The title notwithstanding, there is nothing rough about the quality of the music – Eliza has taken the name of the album from an age-old custom and she explains it…..
“Rough Music is in the Book of Days on October 28th and is described as a form of community punishment practiced all over England. If a man were seen to be (say) beating his wife, or ‘allowing himself to be hen-pecked’ it says here, he could expect to receive a concert of Rough Music. Basically if they thought you had been naughty (it doesn’t say how or if they proved this) all the men, women and children of the village would go round to your house in the middle of the night, call out your name and proceed to bang pots, pans, tin lids and buckets or whatever came to hand, to bring your crimes to attention and drive you out. When my family moved to North Yorkshire at the beginning of the seventies there was a case of a man being driven from our area by this method. However, we’ve tried to make the album a bit nicer than that.”
• “Top 10 Folk Album of the Year 2005″ Mojo
• “An instant winner. Great singing, rousing instrumentals, fabulous album. A Best Album of the Year.” Daily Telegraph
• “Rough Music feels fearless, certain and solid, putting all of Carthy’s many and varied skills into service. She can do it just by being brilliant.” ★★★★ Sunday Times
• “One of the brightest stars in the folk firmament. Eliza’s exquisite voice and fiddle playing make this a vibrant take on centuries-old tradition.” ★★★★ The Sun
• “Singer and violinist Eliza Carthy is one of the figureheads of the English folk revival and this album demonstrates why – compelling music.” ★★★★ Evening Standard
• “..the 29-year-old’s rawest collection to date. ..her voice lies at the centre of Rough Music’s most powerful moments.” ★★★★ Mojo
Eliza Carthy’s triumphant return to Topic Records after a period recording for Warner Brothers. Anglicana was nominated for BBC Radio 3 World Music Album of the Year and is a great new traditional album re-affirming her as one of the most important artists of her generation. As the title suggests, Anglicana is an expression of Englishness (as Eliza feels it), “with people who were around at the time, no border checkpoints, nobody pushed out, just what it is”.
It is built on the solid foundations of the traditional music of the country of her birth. There is no question that she has absorbed much of the great qualities of that tradition, but she is not interested in producing pastiche or sterile re-construction. She is one of the few people who can take this wonderful music and perform it in a totally convincing contemporary style – both true to its sources and firmly relevant to today’s values. This is what traditional music in the twenty-first century is all about!
• “Brilliant updating of the English folk tradition .. proper music, not museum art – her voice has never sounded fuller” ★★★★★ The Independent
• “Surely the best album of its type so far this century” fROOTS
• “faultless” www.Amazon.co.uk
Best folk album of the year Mojo
Eliza Carthy – “The one indisputable young star of British folk” The Times – celebrates her first twenty one years as a professional musician with Wayward Daughter a career-spanning best of double album, with 31 tracks drawn from her diverse and award-winning back-catalogue including traditional and self-penned material. This 2CD is the perfect companion to Eliza’s recently released official biography, written by Sophie Parkes, also titled ‘Wayward Daughter’. There are also a couple of live tracks, samples of a few of her many collaborations with other artists – and previously unreleased material, too.
‘It’s a proud career CV but more importantly it stands powerfully alone on its own considerable merits – vibrant, modern and relevant’ – fRoots Magazine
‘Her vision remains absolutely faithful to the story and expresses the song’s essential emotions. She accomplishes this with wit and exuberance – And this is her genius.. Every home should have a wayward daughter’ – ***** Songlines Magazine
‘A more fearsome performer than mum or dad, or indeed anyone else on the folk scene she’s helped to galvanise…a rich primer of a singular career’ – 8/10 Uncut
‘Headstrong, determined, incorrigible and irreverent, Eliza Carthy did more than anyone to revoluntionise and rid English folk music of staid cliche ridden images’ – **** Mojo
‘Whatever she addresses she does so with warmth, intelligence and crate loads of personality’ – **** Record Collector
1 Worcester City
2 Great Grey Back – with Tom Wright
3 Two Tears
4 The Rose And The Lily – Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson
5 Mr Walker
6 Colourblind – with the Ratcatchers
7 Jacky Tar
8 Grey Gallito – Salsa Celtica with Eliza Carthy
9 Newry Town – Waterson:Carthy
10 Blood On My Boots
11 Billy Boy / The Widow’s Wedding
12 The Forsaken Mermaid – Waterson:Carthy
13 I Know My Love – Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr
14 Gallant Hussar – with The Ratcatchers
15 Space Girl – Imagined Village
16 May Song – Waterson:Carthy
1 Little Big Man
2 Child Among The Weeds – with the Red Band
3 Rolling Sea
4 Cold, Wet & Rainy Night / The Grand Hornpipe
5 Lemady – Eliza Carthy & Martin Green, featuring Eddi Reader
6 Jack Frost – Waterson:Carthy
7 Willow Tree
8 The Company Of Men
9 Adieu, Adieu
11 Crystal Spring – Waterson Carthy
12 Blow The Winds / The Game Of Draughts
13 Mohair – with The Ratcatchers
14 The Nightingale / For Kate – Eliza Carthy & Norma Waterson
15 Britain Is A Car Park
On 19th April we released a beautifully packaged, limited edition7″ vinyl single for Record Store Day UK – a taster of the forthcoming new album from Martin and Eliza Carthy - Happiness b/w The Queen of Hearts
‘Happiness’ is a graceful, timeless song written and originally recorded by Molly Drake, Nick Drake’s mother; this is the very first time the song has been officially released by a major recording artist.
Martin Carthy first recorded ‘The Queen of Hearts’ for his debut album nearly 50 years ago, in 1965, and he revisits the song here with his daughter for a stately rendition that more than equals the quality of that first recording.
The legendary Martin Carthy and his equally legendary daughter Eliza will release their first album together, ‘The Moral of the Elephant’ on 2nd June 2014.
‘This is deliberately an album of English music,’ writes Martin Carthy in his notes. ‘It is neither possible nor desirable to set up musical border checkpoints anywhere. However, there is that elusive and ever changing thing called identity.’ Assisted by members of Eliza Carthy’s band and the voices of other members of the family, Waterson:Carthy sing and play such timeless English anthems as Claudy Banks and Hares in the Old Plantation, ending with a stirring performance of the hymn Stars in My Crown, dedicated to the English playwright Dennis Potter.
The Kings of Calicutt join Eliza Carthy in a buoyant selection of songs and tunes.
‘The ideas are incessant, the technique superb and the energy irresistible.’ – Folk Roots