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(More) English Folk Music

(Waterson:Carthy - Broken Ground)

Updated: F ebruary 18, 2008

There is a lot of English folk music, but my tastes to date favor only a small sample of it, and much of that comes from the northern edge of England, particularly the area of Northumbria on the border of Scotland. TNorma Waterson, Martin Carthy, and their daughter Eliza sing traditional English songs with a strong Celtic flavor to them. Kathryn Tickell plays the bagpipes, but English bagpipes. And Jez Lowe is just an exceptional songwriter. Here are the albums I am enjoying now:

 (On Reflection) Eliza Carthy & Nancy Kerr- On Reflection(Mrs. Casey Records 2002) This is acollection of material from 4 previous CDs from 1993-95 and three previouslyunrecorded tracks from these exceptional singers and fiddlers. I had notpreviously appreciated how good a singer and fiddler Nancy Kerr was andtogether this pair is dynamite, having a terrific chemistry together both asinstrumentalists and singing duets. The material is traditional, but playedwith a fierce intensity that hits the listener like a blast of sea air thatboth braces and rouses one out of a chair to dance. 15 tunes and songs - a lotof music here. (Very highly recommended)
Common Tongue Album Cover Waterson:Carthy consists of Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson and their daughter Eliza Carthy. Martin and Norma are legends of English folk music. Eliza comes by her genius honestly. I started with their second CD : Common Tongue (Topic Records, 1997) This is a fine album Wonderful, dark, harmony singing, terrific songs, and then the extraordinary fiery fiddling of Eliza.

(Broken Ground)

(A Dark Light)
- Broken Ground (1999 Topic Records) is even better. The trio is joined by Saul Rose on melodeon and backing vocals. Rose's melodeon playing adds a new and wonderful sound to three great singers and the always very strong fiddling of Eliza. There are wonderful solos and great harmony singing, plus some beautiful hornpipes and reels played as instrumentals, and a great a capella version of "The Ditchling Carol". Mention must be made of the terrific English songs that Liza has found. This album has it all. Between this family and Kate Rusby, English traditional music has found terrific champions. (Very highly recommended)

- A Dark Light (Topic Records, 2002). The first family of English folk is back with another excellent CD. This album of 11 songs is even darker in mood. Martin Carthy, Norma and Eliza Waterson and Tim Van Eyken alternate in being lead vocals, with the three combining in haunting harmonies several tunes, particularly on a fine version of "Shepherd's Arise". Van Eyken also adds some lovely punchy melodeon rythym to some hornpipes. (Highly recommended)


Rusby & Roberts

Kate Rusby --Kate made her first northern California appearance at the Great American Music Hall in July 2001, and it was a brilliant concert. Kate has several CDs, all of which are quite wonderful, including: Kate Rusby and Kathryn Roberts ( 199_ ). For many, this is their favorite Kate Rusby CD. Having listened to it quite a bit recently, I can certainly understand why. Her second CD, Hourglass (1998), is also excellent.

Kate Rusby- Underneath the Stars (Compass Records, 2004). Kate keeps producing sublime albums again with (now ex-)husband John McCusker's exquisite arrangements.  Half the 12 tunes are traditional and half are Kate's compositions. I particular like her version of "The Goodman" a traditional tune about a cheating wife duping her gullible husband,  "The White Cockade" a song about a girl's sweetheart being recruited into the army, and Kate's own excellent ballads "Falling" and "Underneath the Stars".  (Very highly recommended)

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