Mix together Kirsty MacColl and Enya, add a dash of Madonna and you have some idea of Eliza Carthy. No, that’s not strictly fair. Eliza Carthy is a one off, but the above description is the nearest I could come to describing her for those not familiar with her musical sound. Twenty six year old Eliza, is the daughter of two of the biggest ’names’ in the folk world, if you can have such a thing, Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson and boy does she look the spit of her father ..... minus the blue hair and facial piercings you understand. That‘s hers not his! By the by. Eliza Carthy sings folk music .... that isn’t. This sounds daft, but she is difficult to label under the genre of folk, although she certainly cannot come under pop either. Contemporary, folk influenced music is as close as I can come to describing it accurately. Let’s just say she has breathed new life into traditional English folk music and leave it at that shall we? Anyway, she is one of the most impressive and engaging performers of the current band of younger generation of folk musicians. Her singing is innovative, she writes her own compositions and is an accomplished fiddle-player. Her latest album, Angels and Cigarettes, which was released in September 2000, is a mixture of bluesy, modern, ethereal sounds with Celtic undertones. Phew. This one seems more ‘polished’ than some of her other stuff, with much multi-layering and a more ‘electric’ sound, which doesn’t necessarily make it better, you understand. I suppose you could slightly compare her music with that of the Corrs, although Eliza is a much better singer than Andrea Corr is. Unfortunately she seems to be going the same way as the Corrs have. The folkiness seems to be giving way to a more pop orientated sound which is a pity. Personally, I prefer her singing more traditional or at least more folk-sounding songs.
Her new work, I feel, is veering dangerously close to being ‘new-age’ and to be honest I’m not that keen. This latest album starts of very promisingly, with the sublime Whispers of Summer, written by herself and others, and well, basically goes downhill from that point. Not that the album is without merit; it isn‘t at all. It‘s just ‘not my thing‘. Having said this, I loved Red Rice, one of her previous albums which was much less 'produced'. Her music just seems to be getting more and more mainstream that's all. Some of Eliza’s lyrics are superb though. She is indeed a very talented songwriter who uses biting irony and tinges of sadness in her compositions. One of her songs, Beautiful Girl, which tells us about that women we’ve all wanted to be at some time, girls, includes the line; “Beautiful girl I know you’re probably dead clever, but you’re only gorgeous once and you’ll be clever forever” Lovely! Eliza has a gorgeous silky voice that is quite low sounding for a female. What is also nice about her singing is that you can hear her Yorkshire accent coming through slightly, which is ever so refreshing when usually in contemporary music, accents sound very ’Americanised’. I would hazard a guess that her music would very much appeal to those who enjoy the music of the Corrs or who would like to dip their toe into a ‘different’ type of music. For those who enjoy more traditional sounding music though, go for some of her earlier offerings such as Red Rice, Heat Light and Sound or Eliza Carthy & the Kings of Calicutt.
Daughter of Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, Eliza carthy has a folk heritage like few others and appears to hae inherreted a great deal of her parents combined talent. I saw Eliza Carthy in Cheltenham a few years ago. She is a wonderful, spirited performer and an incredible musician. Her folk roots are very evident, and she mixes traditional music with her own compositions - a great combination. The group she is working with at present are really good and if you get a chance, go and see her live. Her albums are great, there's a mixture of lively tunes, songs, more moody numbers and varied instrumentation. If you like very traditional folk, you might not get along with her stuff, equally, if yu hate folk you aren't going to like this much. Open minded listeners are going to enjoy her work.