I have quite a few folk albums, but this is still one of my favourites. Its mix of warmth, informality and a kind of on-the-hoof carefree quality make it irresistible and I often find myself playing it when all else has failed.
It helps of course that Eliza Carthy is a rounded, instinctive musician to her fingertips, as are the members of the strangely named small group (who are Barnaby Stradling, Saul Rose, Maclaine Colston & Andi Wells, plus a few guests, including John McCusker) that she`s got strumming, drumming, and plucking with her on this 1997 record.
It`s a nicely packaged CD too, with the song titles reduced to one word paraphrases on the back cover - Trip, Whirly, Tractor, and so on - and several moody photos of the band inside & outside the well-designed booklet.
Whirly Whirl is, in Liza`s words, `a rude song about getting married` and is great fun, as is their helter-skelter treatment of Bonaparte`s Retreat, a song I first knew from an early LP by, of all people, ex-Monkee and country-rock maestro Michael Nesmith.
Fisher Boy is utterly beautiful and haunting, the kind of ballad Carthy sings so inimitably.
Songs are interspersed with instrumentals in a flowing, organic thread of music. Indeed, this is one of the most pleasingly coherent folk albums I`ve heard. I`m listening to it now, and played it twice yesterday - it`s that kind of album, the kind you want to hear often.
If you`re looking for a folk record which has balls, energy, a bit of attitude, yet also manages to be `the real thing` then look no further.
Eliza Carthy has led or guested on more albums than you can shake a bow at, but for me this is still one of her brightest and best.