Describing herself simply as a 'modern English musician' Eliza Carthy, has been touring on and off since the age of fourteen and first appeared on record in 1990 as a member of The Mrs Ackroyd Band alongside such notables as Les Barker, June Tabor and her father Martin Carthy.
After two collaborative recordings with Nancy Kerr, she released her first solo album Heat, Light & Sound, for Topic Records in 1996, a selection of traditional songs, two of which open this new selection of her work which is drawn entirely from her solo recordings for the label and closing with a track from 2017's Big Machine album. This last record saw her fronting the 12-piece Wayward Band; it was an album which wowed critics and none more so than Mojo which praised her for whipping "her characteristic fondness for adventure into ever grander and more colourful directions."
To describe Eliza Carthy as prolific simply doesn't do justice to her tireless touring and recording which aside from her solo work includes recordings with parents Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson in Waterson:Carthy, and acclaimed albums with each of them (The Gift and The Moral of the Elephant), plus the Imagined Village and countless others, most recently teaming up Tim Ericksen and with fellow fiddlers Bella Hardy, Lucy Farrell and Kate Young.
Eliza has often given 'trad folk' a radical makeover like the track 'Clark Saunders' from her Topic debut is a wonderfully true, unaccompanied delight; while the amalgam of 'No Man's Jig'/'Hanoverian Dance'/'Three Jolly Sheepskins' from 2002's Anglicana shows off her acute instrumental skills alongside the likes of Jon Boden, John Spiers and Ben Ivitsky. Neither track would offend the purists. Neither should her version of the traditional ballad 'Willow Tree', also taken from Anglicana, rendered in the lazy style of Hoagy Carmichael. It was with the two CD collection Red Rice in 1998 that Eliza Carthy really announced herself as a songwriter but also as an innovator.
An Introduction To Eliza Carthy may be a mere snapshot of Eliza Carthy's cram-packed career, focussing as it does on her individual recordings for Topic, but it certainly underlines the indelible impression she has made - not just on folk music - but on modern music per se. Like any good 'introduction' it will also leave you wanting more.
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