Saturday, March 19, 2011

Heritage: Eliza Carthy

Eliza Carthy: Fisher Boy


Billy Bragg and Eliza Carthy: My Father's Mansions


Old friend and once-upon-a-time Star Maker Machine contributor Divinyl may be up to her eyebrows in grad school, but she still had time to check in via FaceBook to express excitement about this week's theme, offering alongside her kudos and hellos a short wish-list of folks she hoped we might get to. Her first suggestion, Rufus Wainwright, has already been covered with aplomb by Anne, and despite impeccable if relatively localized famous parentage, her second and third choices - the Unthanks and Martha Tilston - are a bit recent for our usual standards, having started their recording careers post-millennium.

Eliza Carthy, on the other hand, fits both our high standards and our practice. And so today's secondhand recommendation, though last on Divinyl's list, comes first on mine, with my full endorsement.

I've written about Eliza Carthy and her family within the year, in fact, over at Cover Lay Down, and Darius posted a song of hers way back in February of last year, so I won't go too deeply into her work here, except to note that, like Rufus and Anita, Eliza comes from a long and broad musical lineage - she's the daughter of Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, niece of Mike and Lal Waterson - and started out as a wee lass performing alongside family, with mother, aunt, and cousin. Since then, she has put out several solo albums, and records and tours with both the larger family and as Waterson:Carthy with her parents. But regardless of who she is paired with, or not, one listen, and you, too, will have little doubt that the tendency towards traditional Brit-folk of the Yorkshire revivalist sort runs rich in her veins.

As this week's theme asks us to focus on progeny specifically, I've selected two favorite "sans family" pieces as introduction: the former a simple mid-nineties take on a traditional tune featuring Eliza's bold vocals, the latter featuring her potent fiddling, alongside Billy Bragg's voice, on a Pete Seeger song which resonates exceptionally well in the lyrical tones of those from across the pond.

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