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Eliza Carthy


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Most albums are traditional English and traditionally based tunes and songs; recent albums are folk-flavoured alternative pop

Status:

Most recent album, Wayward Daughter (2-CD compilation, 2013); most recent release of new material, Neptune (2011)

See also:

Eliza Carthy's site

Wikipedia's entry on Eliza Carthy

Eliza Carthy's MySpace page

Waterson:Carthy site

The Ectophiles' Guide entries for Eliza Carthy's other projects: duo work with Nancy Kerr, Waterson:Carthy, Carthy Hardy Farrell Young

Comparisons:

Her traditional work is like Martin Carthy, June Tabor, Cordelia's Dad; her pop work like Linda Thompson and Kirsty MacColl. Voice a little like Natalie Merchant.

Covers/own material:

Traditional tunes, and her own songs, often co-written

General comments:

Regarding Eliza: Yes, Eliza is the child of Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson. She's an incredibly energetic young woman, and she follows her parent's devotion to traditional music while also recording her own original and sometimes experimental works. She's a fiddle fiend and given to coloring her hair bright shades of fushia and wearing combat boots. I understand that she's also an explorer scout leader.
     A good starting place for her recorded music is a two-CD set called Red Rice with one CD of traditional music and one of original recordings. (valerie@smoe.org)

Eliza Carthy is very much her parents' child and shares their remarkable talents as vocalists and musicians. Her solo work shows her strengths growing constantly. Her voice is rather like a female version of her father, Martin Carthy's—while it's not what most people would consider a technically lovely voice it's excellent for singing traditional songs: she can sing expressively without being overdramatic and her voice has enough of an edge to keep the songs from being prettified. Hers is a real, earthy voice and her playing matches it. She's amazingly talented and her vocals in particular are getting better and better. Highly recommended to all fans of traditional music played with grit and realism and the beauty that brings to traditional sounds.
     But her pop album, angels & cigarettes, has been a true revelation. I had no idea how her voice would shine in such a setting, what a delightful songwriter she is, or how she would fit into the pop mold. It's a wonderful new direction for her. (Neile)

A kickass fiddler with the great voice. I saw her perform in Waterson:Carthy and was pretty impressed. (meth@smoe.org)

Her solo work is quite impressive. (Silme@ix.netcom.com)

Comments about live performance:

I went to hear Eliza Carthy sing and play with her band in a smoky bar, and she was wonderful—lively, lovely voiced and the live arrangements worked well. I loved hearing her do this great material live. I've heard her a couple of times as part of her the combo she does with her parents, but this is the first time I've heard her doing her own thing, and her own new non-folk thing. Other than the fact that the bar was off-putting—small, smoky, crowded—it was a pleasant evening and Eliza was dynamic and fun. (3/01, Neile)

Eliza Carthy and her band put on one of the best shows I've seen in a while, and it was well worth having to deal with the shortcomings of the location. Eliza came on stage alone and did what sounded like a traditional song, accompanying herself just on her 4-string tenor guitar. Then the rest of the band came on stage: they numbered seven in total, squeezed into an area that would have been tight for four. They somehow managed, though. The band consists of drum, bass, acoustic guitar, backup singer (who also does some percussion things), accordion player (who also plays keyboards and runs a little synthesizer), fiddler, and Eliza, who plays fiddle (two of them) and guitar and keyboards when nobody else is over there. And they rock.
     I have to admit I don't listen to Red Rice all that much, and we don't have the new one yet, so I was unfamiliar with all of the songs they played. They were all great, though. At times I was reminded of Garmarna, and at others of Lamb—there's a lot going on in the instrumentation, with all sorts of flavors mixed in. Eliza's voice floats beautifully above it all. They did one traditional song, which I never would have thought of as trad unless she'd specifically introduced it as such. The band had made it indelibly their own.
     Eliza was charming and funny between songs, and proved the catalyst for a hilarious moment when they were trying to work out a technical problem with the bass. She said "so is it time for a crazy dance, then?" and the keyboard player allowed as yes, probably it was. So he went over to the keyboard (while Eliza grabbed her video camera) and then he proceeded to play a staccato bit on the piano while doing this jumpy Cossack-dancing thing that ended with his hitting the last few notes on the keyboard with his feet. It has to be seen to be believed (Eliza noted afterwards that she was videoing it to show her grandkids, because otherwise they'd never believe it). :) (3/01, meth@smoe.org)

Recommended first album:

Anglicana or Red Rice for her traditional albums; angels & cigarettes is brilliant pop. (Neile)

Recordings:


Heat Light & Sound

Release info:

1996—Topic Records—TSCD 482

Availability:

Wide in U.S. and U.K.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for traditional folk fans

Group members:

Eliza Carthy—vocals, fiddle, monster and five-string fiddle

Guest artists:

Dylan Clarke—double bass, vocal, percussion
Martin Ellison—melodeon
James Fagan—bouzouki, vocal
Thorn Fontenot—triangle
Olly Knight—electric guitar
Dan Plews—guitar
Barnaby Stradling—bass guitar
Sam Thomas—drums, percussion, vocal
Jock Tyldesley—fiddle
Hazel Wrigley—keyboard

Produced by:

Eliza, Ray Williams & Tony Engle

Comments:

A grand collection of songs and tunes—lively, entertaining, witty, with great, lively fiddle. This album shows how Eliza Carthy is quickly becoming as wonderful a traditional folk artist as her parents, and is a step up from her duo work with Nancy Kerr. (Neile)

Eliza Carthy & The Kings of Calicutt

Release info:

1997—Topic Records—TSCD 489

Availability:

Wide in U.K. and U.S.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for traditional folk fans

Group members:

Eliza Carthy—fiddle, viola, mandolin, singing, the other wah
The Kings: Andi Wells—drums
Barnaby Stradling—bass
Saul Rose—melodeon & singing
Maclaine Colston—hammered dulcimer, singing, snare, wah

Guest artists:

John McCusker—violin
Conrad Ivitsky—double bass
J. Simon Van Der Wailt, Jak Duff & Toby Shippey—horns

Produced by:

John McCusker

Comments:

Eliza Carthy's voice gets stronger and more expressive as time goes on, and The Kings of Calicutt are lively musicians how help bring out the best of Eliza Carthy's talents. The songs on this album are an especial delight. Great contemporary playing of traditional folk. Those how are a little disappointed with the new Waterson:Carthy might do well to pick this one up. These are great musicians and Eliza Carthy shines in this setting. (Neile)

Red Rice

Release info:

1998—Topic Records—Red: TSCD 493 & Rice: TSCD 494

Availability:

U.S. & U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended for trad. fans

Musicians:

Red:
Eliza Carthy—fiddle, singing, one-row accordion, keyboards
Martin Green—piano accordion & keyboards
Barnaby Stradling—electric & acoustic bass, percussion, Moog
Sam Thomas—drums, percussion, Moog
Ed Boyd—acoustic guitar
Olly Knight—electric guitar
Shack & Paul—programming
Lucy Adams—backing vocals
Rory McLeod—harmonica
Andy Thorburn—guest keyboards

Rice:
Eliza Carthy—fiddle, viola, piano djembe, singing
Saul Rose—melodeon, one-row accordion, singing
Ed Boyd—acoustic guitar, bouzouki
Eleanor Waterson—singing
Lucy Adams—feet, clogs, singing
Billericay Fontenot—guitar, singer
Throngumbold Fontenot—singing

Produced by:

Red produced by Niall Macauley; Rice produced by "Eliza and the rest of the world"

Comments:

Red and Rice are two separate cds packaged together, though they definitely are complementary. Red is a delightfully lively collection of songs and tunes with a definite rockish instrumentation including synthesizers and wonderful vocal/backing vocal interplay/overlay. Excellent contemporary renditions of songs that don't lose the traditional edge and yet they don't at all sound dated.
     I've been playing Red over and over. I would even recommend it to people who don't so much like traditional music as the sound is wonderfully inventive. Traditional fans who like the inventive will adore this.
     Rice is a slightly more stripped-down, traditional presentation of songs (not to suggest that Red is at all cluttered, because it's not) using the instrumentation and overall sound we're more used to hearing in traditional English music. Another charming energetic collection of tunes and songs.
     Overall Red Rice one of the best collections of traditional music I've come across in a long time—I like how the focus is on the presentation of the songs and tunes, not on virtuosity, though the musicians involved are clearly extremely talented. Definitely her best collection so far! This is going to be one of my all-time favourite folk albums. I love the combination of the two albums in this—the more traditional Rice and the more experimental Red, and Eliza Carthy's voice just gets stronger and more evocative with every recording. This is a classic. (Neile)

I don't know if I can really do it justice but yes, she fiddles and I guess I saw it described as "new folk" or whatever. It's very interesting stuff, I liked it, but I don't think I could just play that all the time over and over. (rkb200@is5.nyu.edu)

Yow. I am completely, utterly besotted with that woman's voice. And she ain't too bad of a musician, either. :) (meth@smoe.org)

Belated thanks to those who recommended Red Rice, I LOVE IT!! (Horter3)


angels & cigarettes

Release info:

2000—Warner—9362 47698 2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Eliza Carthy—vocals, Violin, viola, octave violin, tenor guitar, keyboards

Guest artists:

Barnaby Stradling—bass, acoustic guitar on 1 track, Rhodes piano
Ben Ivitsky—guitars, violin, whooshy noises, moog, vocals
Sam Thomas—drums, vibes
Heather Macleod—vocals
Lucy Adams—vocals
Martin Green—piano, accordion, moog, keyboards
Willy Molleson—drums
Carole Steele—stuff and mooses, congas, bongos, percussion
Dophin Boy—programming
Martin Carthy—Gibson Les Paul, 00018 Martin guitar
Leland Sklar—bass
BJ Cole—pedal steel
Alan Prosser—guitar
Van Dyke Parks—piano
Al Scott—organ keyboard
Phil Johnson—Hammond organ
The Mondriaan String Quartet

Produced by:

Al Scott

Comments:

This is Eliza's first pop album after years of traditional work, and it goes to show that she has the chops and talent to spare for both genres. She's caught some intersection of folk and pop that rarely gets touched, and has added some very contemporary electronics on top of that, and on top of that her voice has grown wonderful. This is one of my favourite albums of 2000 (and 2001 since it wasn't released in the U.S. until 2001). This is a mix of great songwriting, Eliza's voice and vocal confidence truly coming into its own, and a great foray into pop for the first time from someone who has mostly done traditional folk. There is a little folk influence in it, but much less than you'd think with the exception of Eliza's fiddle playing. She knows pop and has the folksinger's trick of making some beautifully heartwrenching vocal moments. This album reminds me so much in vocals and overall sound of Linda Thompson's solo album, One Clear Moment, that it's uncanny, but it doesn't have the dated sound of that album, and it uses strings—strings!—in a way that works for me rather than detracting from the songs. The songwriting is intriguing—she's getting lots of press about the songs that begins, "I've given blowjobs on couches" ("The Company of Men") but the album is much more than that—though it does have a touch of gritty gut honesty that that line exemplifies. There are moments that sound rather like Kirsty MacColl, but Eliza is her own woman, and this album is a knockout. (Neile)

Anglicana

Release info:

2002—Topic Records—TSCD539

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Eliza Carthy—fiddle, octave violin, piano, vocals

Guest artists:

John Spiers—melodeon
Jon Boden—fiddle
Donald MacDougal—guitar
Barnaby Stradling—acoustic bass
Donald Hay—drums, percussion, hammer, girders
Ben Ivitsky—viola, guitar, semi-acoustic guitar, trombone
Tim van Eyken—melodeon, guitar, harmonica
Norma Waterson—vocals
Maria Gilhooley—vocals
Will Duke—concertina
Dan Quinn—melodeon
Tom Salter—electric guitar
Martin Carthy—guitar
Martin Green—piano accordion
Doug Duncan—trumpet
Greg Ivitsky—alto saxophone
Heather Macleod—vocals
Mary Macmaster—vocals

Produced by:

Eliza Carthy and Ben Ivitsky

Comments:

Eliza Carthy just gets better and better. This is a lovely, strong album of traditional songs and tunes, and is highly recommended for anyone who likes traditional English music. (Neile)

Rough Music

Release info:

2005—Topic Records—TSCD554

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Eliza Carthy and the Ratcatchers
     Eliza Carthy—fiddle, clapping, guitar, vocals
     Jon Boden—concertina, fiddle, double bass, guitar, clapping, tambourine, vocals
     Ben Ivitsky—viola, clapping, Rant stepping, low whistle, hurdy-gurdyvocals
     John Spiers—bandoneon, one-row accordion, melodeon, clapping, Rant stepping, Morris dancing

Guest artists:

Willy Molleson—vocals
Lorna MacDonald—bass trombone
Heather Macleod—vocals
Mattie Foulds—snare drum, lemon drum
Fay Hield—vocals
Mary Hampton—vocals

Produced by:

Eliza Carthy and Ben Ivitsky

Comments:

Another charming collection of traditional songs and tunes. This particular verson of her band is wonderfully tight and clearly enjoy playing together. Some terrific mournful and lively songs. I'm particularly fond on her version of "Maid on the Shore", a song I have a couple of versions of by her father. "Tom Brown" is also a lot of fun. (Neile)

Dreams of Breathing Underwater

Release info:

2008—Topic RecordsTSCD571

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Eliza Carthy—vocals, violin, tenor guitar, octave violin, ukulele, one-row melodeon, piano

Guest artists:

Barnaby Stradling—bass guitar (1, 6, 7, 10); drums, drumtrak machine (3)
Willy Molleson—drums (1, 4, 6, 10, 11); vocals (1, 5, 8, 11); cajon/Moog (10)
Ben Ivitsy—vocals (1, 5, 8, 11); 5-string viola (2, 5); guitar (3, 4, 5, 9); noises, Sylaaphone, triangle (3); electric guitars (4, 6); viola, percussion (7); rowing (8); noises (9); cajon/Moog (10); trombone (11)
Barney Strachan—organetta (2); vocals (3, 4); drumtrak machine (3)
John Spiers—melodeon (2); vocals (8)
Jon Boden—violin (2); concertina (3); banjo, vocals (8)
Conrad Ivitsky—double bass (2, 11); vocals (11)
Donald Hay—drums (2, 5); percussion (7)
Heather Macleod—vocals (3, 4, 6, 7, 10)
Paul Sartin—oboe (3)
Mickey Marr—bass guitar (3)
Robert McFall—string arrangement, violin (4, 7, 8, 10, 11)
Claire Sterling—violin (4, 7, 8, 10, 11)
Brian Shieles—viola (4, 7, 8, 10, 11)
Su-a Lee—cello (4, 7, 8, 10, 11)
Tom Lyne—double bass (4)
Tam Matthew—narrator, violin (5)
Toby Shippey—trumpet (5)
Martin Green—piano accordion (5, 6); keyboards (10)
Marcus Britton—trumpet (5, 6, 11)
Tim Lane—trombone (5, 6, 11)
Olivia Furness—tenor saxophone (5, 6, 11)
Greg Ivitsky—alto saxophone (5, 6, 11); vocals (11)
Joe Peat—bass guitar (5)
Sarah Roberts—vocals (6, 10)
Eddie Reader—vocals (7)
Emma Smith—vocals (8)
Gideon Juckes—ruba (8)
David "demus" Donnelly—bass guitar (9)

Produced by:

Ben Ivitsky and Eliza Carthy

Comments:

Dreams of Breathing Underwater is another album of originals in the vein of angels & cigarettes. Again the songwriting is strong, and Eliza's voice is just getting richer and richer, so the performances are wonderful and heart-rending (or rousing if the song requires that). Eliza Carthy has a fine sense of drama, so there's a lot of fun in here, too. It's all pretty wonderful. (Neile)

Neptune (2011)

Release info:

2011—Hem Hem Records—HHR001CD

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Eliza Carthy—vocals, violin, octave violin, electric tenor guitar, electric guitar, whistles

Guest artists:

Phil Alexander—piano, Rhodes, piano, Hammond organ, piano accordion, vocals, ranting, whistling
Willy Molleson—drums, vocals, whistling
Bethany Porter—cello, vocals, whistling
Heather Macleod—vocals
Orkestra del Sol horns:
     Marcus Britton—trumpet and French horn
     Phillip Cardwell—trumpet
     Tim Lane—trombone
     Greg Ivitsky—alto sax
     Olivia Furness—tenor sax

Produced by:

Dave Wah and Eliza Carthy

Comments:

Another album of original storytelling songs, these are all very dramatic and fun. Eliza Carthy uses her voice like a virtuoso plays an instrument, and the stories she sings are more powerful for it. (Neile)

Wayward Daughter

Release info:

2013—Topic Records—TSCD 772D

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Comments:

This is a 2-CD compilation of the range of Eliza Carthy's work from early CDs and collaborations to her most recent work. It demonstrates her range and changes, and appeared at the same time as a biography with the same title; she's young for a biography but has already led a life as full and interesting as her musical career. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to know the range of her work and to see where to dig down deeper. (Neile)

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2014-04-27 21:02:25.
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