Eliza Carthy & the Restitution: Queen of the Whirl review – highlights reel
Although she is unarguably the queen of English folk, Eliza Carthy MBE has often bristled at the confines the “F” word suggests, and which she has done her damnedest to escape, whether pitching her fiddle against thrash rock guitar or diving into drum’n’bass.
Here, she looks back over her 30-year career (from age 17) by revisiting some of its highlights with her current band, a well-drilled folk-rock five piece. Chosen in part via Twitter, its 15 tracks include early compositions like Mohair, classic folk like The Snow It Melts the Soonest and oddments like Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger’s Space Girl. Everything is tightly played, and with Carthy in such rich vocal form, every number emerges refreshed, even unlikely pieces like Good Morning, Mr Walker, originally a calypso by Mighty Sparrow and later made over by Carthy’s late mother, Norma Waterson. Her aunt, Lal Waterson, is likewise acknowledged with Stumbling On, given a punchy treatment spiked with electric guitar.
Carthy’s violin playing, ever inventive, deserves more highlights, but her persona, alternately ardent and mischievous, is undimmed. At times, say on Pretty Ploughboy, she evokes folk’s rural past, while on her own Blood on My Boots she conjures up music hall – timeless stuff.