The daughter of acclaimed British folk artists Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, Eliza Carthy has long been one of the major protagonists in the UK neo-folk renaissance. A dedicated and passionate artist, Carthy is also highly eclectic, as evinced on previous albums such as Red Rice
, which blended drum & bass with folk fiddle amongst other unusual but largely successful experiments. Dreams Of Breathing Underwater
is Carthy's seventh solo record and is predictably unpredictable. Opening with the 12-bar blues "Follow The Dollar", the album shapeshifts through the ethereal "Hug You Like A Mountain" and "Lavenders", the meandering "Rosalie", the funereal "Two Tears" and the captivating "Mr Magnifico" - right up to the dramatic, swinging denouement "Oranges And Seasalt". Carthys vocals are as mercurial as her arrangements as she switches from angelic to angry, poignant to potent. There's never a dull moment as the songs flit insouciantly between Latin and reggae, electronica and blues, further underlining Carthy's skill as a songwriter and her imagination as an artiste.
Eliza Carthy is undoubtedly one of the most impressive and engaging performers of her generation. Winner of 2 Nationwide Mercury Prize nominations and innumerable other accolades over a 15 year career, Eliza has performed and recorded with a diverse array of artists from Paul Weller to Rufus and Martha Wainwright, from Nick Cave to Joan Baez. This latest album is her second which is self-penned (bar one track,'Hug You Like A Mountain' by Rory McLeod). Released via her long standing (and truly independent ) label, Topic Records, it has been co-produced by Ben Ivitsky in Edinburgh. The 12 tracks not only showcase an inventive, innovative singer and fiddle-player, but also reveal Eliza as a gifted musical conceptualist. Powerful, vital and exuberant rhythms, absorbed from her travels around the globe, characterise this highly original album. Percussion, bass, brass and a chamber orchestra weave a rich tapestry against which to display her incomparable voice. A range of accomplished performers and fellow musicians, including Eddi Reader and Toby Shippey (Salsa Celtica), provide excellent support. Describing herself simply as a 'modern British musician', she has become one of the most dazzling musicians of a generation. She has more than most, revitalised folk music and captured the most hardened of dissenters with intelligent, charismatic and boundary-crossing performance. Fearless, colourful and maverick in the best tradition of English songwriters, this release presses Carthy's many and varied skills into action.