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As Martin Carthy points out in the sleeve notes to this second husband/wife/daughter collaboration, there's no such thing as a pure English folk song. But misplaced liberalism shouldn't deter us from the fact that a certain tradition does remain distinct from Scottish and Irish folk music. It's this tradition that Carthy and The Watersons have already mined, not only in their artistry, but in their continued work to unearth and restore hitherto forgotten old folk songs. Even by their own standards though, Common Tongue
boasts some real finds--in particular, the gorgeous "Claudy Banks", rescued by Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy from a 1908 cylinder recording from Southampton; and a similarly obscure gypsy ballad "American Stranger". While there's always been a tendency for folk historians to create austere art out of such virtuous work, the best thing about Waterson: Carthy is the loose informal ambience that pervades even the closing Baptist hymn. Of course, that's not altogether surprising, given the set-up. What is perhaps more surprising though, is the relatively paltry acclaim Waterson: Carthy's albums have garnered next to Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy' more overdone solo efforts. --Peter Paphides