Eliza Carthy

Eliza Carthy and The Ratcatchers - Rough Music
Topic TSCD554

Eliza Carthy recently said, ‘I have unfinished business with traditional music.’ She should be well satisfied with Rough Music, a standard-setting album of confidence and maturity. The recording succeeds on every level. The outstanding musicality of Carthy, Ben Ivitsky, Jon Boden, John Spiers and guests, playing as one, adds rich, earthy depth. The passionate song selections are deeply suited to Carthy’s soulful voice. Her own composition ‘Mohair’, and a cover of ‘The Unfortunate Lass,’ are exquisitely and movingly sung – drawing the listener right into the heart of the song. Carthy’s voice is unfailingly supported by the heart-wrenching expressiveness and rhythmic potential of fiddle, viola and box.

The instrumentals provide a strong contrast to the darker nature of the songs – they’re the quintessence of the English folk tradition, they’re fresh, lively and contemporary, and they’re irresistible! The joyous verve of fiddle and viola and the sweetness of melodeon, concertina (or whatever is being squeezed) convey every nuance of melody and feeling. There’s a brilliant twist on tradition when the Ratcatchers dissect a pair of Celtic tunes by John McCusker and Michael McGoldrick, anglicising them and enriching them with the fabulous sound of bass trombone – it works beautifully.

Eliza Carthy & the Ratcatchers deserve every plaudit that comes their way for an album that shouts loud and proud about the English tradition.

Debbie Koritsas

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This album was reviewed in Issue 63 of The Living Tradition magazine.