While not a traditional folk album in a strictly purist sense, Rice (originally released in 1998 as half of the two-disc set Red Rice and reissued on its own in 2001) is much more in the vein of, say, early June Tabor or Carthy's mother, the redoubtable Norma Waterson, than the eclectic pop of its twin album, Red. With the exception of a couple of fiddle tunes, most notably the tricky "Haddock and Chips," that are Carthy originals, all of the tracks are traditional English folk songs. Not all of them are given strictly traditional settings, as the hazy overdubbed self-harmonies at the end of the lovely "The Snow It Melts the Soonest" attest, but the arrangements, using the same musicians as on Red, are entirely acoustic. The song selection is excellent, from the humorous "Herring Song" to the trio of dance tunes that closes the album, featuring Carthy's fiddle accompanied by melodeon, guitar, and the amplified clog-dancing of harmony singer Lucy Adams. A richly satisfying collection, Rice seems to be intended to show what Eliza Carthy was capable of in a traditional folk vein before she left folk music almost entirely with her next album, 2000's art rocky Angels & Cigarettes.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason