sun 23/04/2017

CD: Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band - Big Machine | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band - Big Machine

CD: Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band - Big Machine

Ballads, broadsides and brass from Brit-folk doyenne

These are songs that have been sung for centuries, and they will keep on singing, and being sung
Welcome to the wild shores of British folk

Recorded more or less live at those venerable studios with a great big sound, Rockfield and Real World, Eliza Carthy’s Big Machine is a monster of an album, big, brassy, and bendy. She has a monster of a group with her too, the 12-piece Wayward band, among them Sam Sweeney, Lucy Farrell, Saul Rose, Beth Porter, and Barnaby Stradling. There are big choruses, big songs and plenty of freewheeling brass, spiky guitars, strings and sharp contrasts in these bold settings of Broadside Ballads from Manchester’s Chetham Library, songs such as “Devil in the Woman”, about domestic violence, the album opener “Fade and Fall (Not Love)”,  and a paean to all good things nautical, “The Sea”.

Ewan MacColl’s radio ballad “The Fitter’s Song” is the source of the album’s title, while the self-penned “You Know Me” (“the door is always open and the fires are blazing, no one ever turned away, the fruit in our garden is always good”) has a subliminal MC Dizraeli mumbling under Carthy’s home-and-hearth take on how to welcome people on their uppers from distant (or not so distant) shores. There’s a fine cover of Rory McLeod’s “Hug You Like A Mountain” with Teddy Thompson (from another quite prominent British folk family) and it is one of this big album’s quieter, more tender moments Alongside it, there is the traditional ballad, “I Wish That The Wars Were All Over”, recorded live, no overdubs, at the Real World studios with guest Damien Dempsey, and which dates back to the 1700s. It is beautiful and affecting, driven by subtle percussion and layered vocals, and some lovely fiddle work from Eliza. Alas, we know that the wars are never over, but then again, nor are the songs, and these are songs that have been sung for centuries, with feeling and with meaning, and they will keep on singing, and being sung. Big Machine resets Carthy’s career as a big, big statement at a time of considerable turmoil and change. It is most welcome.

Tim Cumming's website @CummingTim

Comments

Hi, my name is Barnaby Stradling. Also known as Barn. NEVER Barny or Barney. Please could you edit this review where my name has been given as Barny Stradling? I do understand that this is a common abbreviation, but it is not my name, and I really dislike it intensely. I would really appreciate this change being made as quickly as possible. Thank you, Barnaby (or Barn) Stradling

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