Martin Carthy,
Waiting for Angels
(Topic, 2004)

Martin Carthy, a towering figure in the British folk revival for four decades, is little known in the United States, which speaks poorly of us Americans. Admired for his musical gifts and loved for his generous personality, Carthy has kept his vision true, remaining an interpreter of (mostly) English song and instrumental traditions.

He has happily resisted the temptation to write and perform only his own material, though one has no doubt that if he had become (like so many of his contemporaries) a singer-songwriter, he would have been a very good one. His knowledge of ballads in particular is probably unequaled among living revivalists. In addition, he married into the legendary folk-singing Waterson family (his wife is Norma Waterson), and their daughter Eliza Carthy is now releasing well-received albums of traditional (and, on occasion, pop) music. Martin, Norma and Eliza, with Tim Van Eyken, perform and record as Waterson:Carthy.

On his latest solo outing Carthy provides a set of well-chosen traditional ballads, plus a fine instrumental of "The Harry Lime Theme" (better known as "The Third Man Theme") and the original instrumental and title tune. The three numbers produced by Oliver Knight are guitar pieces that highlight Carthy's rich and unmistakable style. The rest, produced by daughter Eliza and Ben Ivitsky, are set to bolder, more modern -- though refreshingly unbombastic -- arrangements. These arrangements give this appealing album a distinctive flavor. Waiting for Angels reminds us yet again how very lucky we are to have the likes of Martin Carthy among us.

music review by
Jerome Clark

14 February 2015

Review first published in 2004;
reprinted by permission.

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