With Anglicana, young English folk artist Eliza Carthy waves the flag for old Blighty and coins a term to answer the popular ideal of Americana.
Rather than a separate movement, or any movement at all really, Carthy presents the now well-recognized roots beneath American folk and country music. Unlike Americana, which incorporates various influences including rock ‘n’ roll, Carthy sticks to traditional, even regional, songs, and arranges them without adding modern influence.
There’s a melancholy air to some of these gritty tales, but the production is warm and dense, lending a cozy feel. Carthy’s voice is earthy, with a lovely dryness to it, similar to Beth Orton’s. And, while filled with rich instrumental accents from accordion to melodeon and more (musicians are borrowed variously, some from her family troupe Waterson:Carthy), mostly it is the 27-year-old’s superb fiddle playing that calls the shots.
Three instrumentals — “No Man’s Jig”, “Hanoverian Dance” and “Three Jolly Sheepskins” — are fused together in tribute to the dying art of English country dance, forming a wild celebration. Martin Carthy duets on “Dr. McMBE”, a madrigal-like fiddle-and-guitar piece. (Eliza wrote the poignant instrumental for her father, who received an honorary doctorate and an MBE — Member of the British Empire — hence the strange title.) Carthy’s mum, Norma Waterson, sings on the gorgeous, jaunty “Little Gypsy Girl”.
In various spots, you’ll hear where Anglican and American folk musics intersect as well, particularly in the waltz-timed “Willow Tree”; though sleekly delivered, the tune has all the teary, late-night flavor of a honky-tonk ballad.