The Carrivick Sisters, Turners Hill House Concerts (UK) 3/10/12
Devonian twins Charlotte and Laura Carrivick are only in their early twenties but have already released their fourth album “From the Fields,” which has been garnering some wonderful reviews and quite rightly receiving national radio airplay. The pair’s hearts lie firmly in the traditional field of bluegrass and between them, these two multi-instrumentalists play guitar, dobro, banjo, fiddle and mandolin – all of which were put to use during this intimate acoustic performance.
They started off with James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James which they had learned in preparation for an appearance at the prestigious Cambridge Folk Festival last summer – their strategy being to woo an audience who might be unfamiliar with their own material by playing something they would recognise. They followed it with another cover Church Street Blues by Norman Blake who many regard as the musician responsible for the revival of bluegrass in the 1970’s.
After a couple of standards they moved to the other end of the scale by playing one of their own compositions Man In The Corner which had only been titled a few days previously. And so the evening continued – a judicious mix of covers and original material. Throughout, the twins alternated on lead vocals and harmonised with each other. There is something special about sibling harmonies and tonight, without any microphones, their harmonising really came to the fore.
Whilst they are steeped in bluegrass traditions, admiring very much the work of Alison Krauss – Gentle River by Todd Rakestraw as recorded by Krauss was in tonight’s set list, they are not averse to throwing in a bit of western swing My Window Faces The South (popularised by Bob Wills) and some jazzy elements with an old traditional tune I Can’t Believe, to illustrate how adept they are at different styles of music. I almost wrote to ‘show off how adept…’ but that would not be the right way to describe the Carrivicks because they are unassuming, charming and captivating in a quiet way.
Their own writing draws on local legends and stories with Devon (and Cornwall) providing them with a rich tapestry of material from witches Martha Witchalse to murder ballads Charlotte Dymond. Life on the road as travelling musicians is wistfully captured in If I Had Time and meetings with a fellow dog-walker who surprises them one day by not repeating the story he has told them on every single previous encounter in The Old Apple Tree.
These young women are capturing hearts wherever they play and tonight was no exception. They are receiving plaudits from highly respected reviewers and musicians alike; a successful future beckons for the Carrivicks who effortlessly combine American bluegrass with an English folk sensibility – the recipe is one that in my cookery book would be the well-thumbed page splattered with oil and flour and sauce and…….Jela Webb