Eliza Carthy

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From the first assured notes of "Cold, Wet, and Rainy Night," it's obvious that Eliza Carthy has fully stepped out of the shadow of her famous parents to establish herself as a major young folk artist. And when the tune segues into "The Grand Hornpipe," her fiddle playing really steps into its own. This is modern folk-rock, which doesn't need to be sprightly with manic jugs, as the version of "Ten Thousand Miles" proves, its droning fiddle supporting Carthy's voice, the percussion taking an almost African turn underneath. Carthy is so confident that nothing seems to worry her, be it instrumentals or even the a capella vocal of "Clark Saunders," which clocks in at an epic five minutes and 45 seconds. She's a player and singer of remarkable presence, and her very English style of fiddle playing is not always clean, often creaky, but with the emphasis on putting the tune across and ignoring the frills, although she's more than capable as an instrumentalist. There's plenty of power in the musicians behind her too, with Barnaby Stradling's bass offering a very firm underpinning, never flashy, but holding the musicians together. Carthy's own compositions display not only her influences, but also the fact that she's blossomed into a remarkably talented writer, with "By Then" especially adventurous, with slow, sensuous Central European fiddle lines and an enigmatic vocal. The song seems to be on the verge of breaking into double time, but the fact that it never does simply keeps increasing the tension, which breaks on the closing "Jacky Tar," which might owe a little to both Fairport and Steeleye, but with plenty of dance inflections in the rhythms and some steaming playing from everyone concerned; Carthy herself contributes some nice wah-wah fiddle over a "Shaft"-type funky guitar line. Welcome to the new brand of folk.

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