Martin Carthy

Life and Limb

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Singer/guitarist Martin Carthy and fiddler Dave Swarbrick complement each other nicely: Carthy sings in a plain, openhearted voice and plays guitar virtuosically but in moderation; Swarbrick fiddles energetically, but without excessive ornamentation. This leads to an admirable focus on the songs themselves, and to generally somewhat less-than-compelling instrumental interludes. On the set consisting of "The Pepperpot," "Sailing into Walpole's Marsh" and "Bunker Hill," Swarbrick starts off playing with a sweet, fruity, almost Brahmsian tone before lapsing back into his usual straightforward fiddle style; "Oh Dear Oh" is played and sung in a lurching compound meter. "The Begging Song" is ancient and depressing, just like all the best English ballads, but the highlight of the album is the lovely "Lochmaben Harper" -- listen especially to Carthy's quietly perfect guitar accompaniment.

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