Eliza Carthy, Rough Music

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
An acoustic disc from one of the leaders of the new folk generation.

Being the daughter of Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson puts a heavy weight of expectation on a folk performer, but Eliza Carthy has borne it well. She's done plenty of experimentation in the past, but this deliberately raw, acoustic disc might be the strongest of her career. Backed by a small group, the Ratcatchers (including Spiers and Boden), there's a ramshackle elegance to the music — the "Upside Down" set moves along at a cracking pace — and a focus of purpose. She even manages to give a traditional sheen to Billy Bragg's very '80's "King James Version." Her voice has rarely sounded better or more emotional (as she shows on "The Unfortunate Lass"), and the lineup gives the feel of a raunchy (but talented) rural orchestra — or country dance band — on "Scan Tester's Country Stepdance." She's become one of the de facto leaders of the new folk generation, and on the basis of this, it's a well-deserved title.