The Carrivick Sisters,
From the Fields
(independent, 2011)

Following up on 2009's excellent Jupiter's Corner, the Carrivick Sisters return with yet another selection of heart-warming songs. Their fourth CD From the Fields leaves behind the tales of the sea of Jupiter's Corner; instead, we are treated to a sumptuous selection of new material as the sisters' songwriting continues to evolve.

This high-standard recording features Joe Rusby on production once again, with some additional work by BJ Cole, and superb support from Eleanor Cross on double bass, the aforementioned Cole on pedal steel. Appearing on one track each: John Breese on banjo, Matt Crum on melodeon and David Kosky on guitar. Charlotte and Laura Carrivick share lead and harmony vocals, and the award-winning virtuosity of the sisters is on display as Charlotte tackles the guitar, mandolin, banjo and glockenspiel, with Laura on fiddle, dobro and rhythm guitar. It's all all with a level of skill that would put many an older musician to shame.

The journey begins with the wistful memories of a statue in "Garden Girl" to the country tale of separation, "You'll Miss Her When You're Gone," complete with pedal steel. "Charlotte Dymond" tells a dark story of love spurned and murder in 1844 Bodmin. In contrast, "Today is a Good Day" is an uplifting track featuring some fine vocals from the sisters. We enter Thomas Hardy territory with the story of woe that is "Flowers With Jamie," then back to the light with "Now I Know," which is a evocation to the beauty of nature in and around Devon.

"If I Had Time" laments the pace of modern life (which, as someone who travels the same roads the sisters take, resonates with me). "Early, Early in the Spring" is the only traditional song on the album, with some lovely fiddle and banjo work. "From the Fields" is a heartbreaking account of forbidden love, and it uses only the sisters' voices to starkly reinforce the subject matter.

"The Mouse, the Bird & the Sausage" (named after Charlotte's favourite story from Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm) is a delectable instrumental that never fails to put a smile on my face. "Song of the Night" recounts the "perfect song" many artists write in their dreams, only to let them slip through their fingers as dawn approaches. To round off the album, "When the Birds Start to Sing" is a gentle and enchanting song of simple and innocent pleasures.

This new offering from the sisters does not disappoint, if anything it surpasses the superb Jupiter's Corner. The sisters are wonderful in the bluegrass genre, and I can't help but wonder if a more experimental side project would also be enjoyable fare. I would like to hear them try something more esoteric, perhaps on familiar ground to the magical Whalebone Polly. Having said that, if the sisters still continued on as they are I would still be a fan as they keep getting better with each album. When are they playing live near me? Not soon enough, I'll wager.

From the Fields is a delightful album of rare quality from two of Britain's finest young musicians.

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music review by
Andrew Morris

12 May 2012

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