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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Martin Carthy and Eliza Carthy - It takes two, 2 Jun 2014
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
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Spinning this album for the first time your mind wistfully harks back to all those great Waterson-Carthy albums over the past 20 years. The dawning then hits the listener that despite this massive wealth of music "The Moral of the Elephant" actually represents the first time that the doyen of British folk music and his uber talented and wonderfully wayward daughter have released a duo album together. In a recent interview Eliza Carthy spoke in jest that "this is the first time we've got around to kicking mum out". It is understood that Martin determined diplomatically not to comment but broke into a wry chuckle.

Whilst the presence of folk giant Norma Waterson has been a central plank of all the previous albums the "The Moral of the Elephant" stands in its own right as an masterful LP by two of the genre's prime exponents playing alone, live in the studio and in barebones acoustics. This simplicity brings out the best in the both of them on an excellent set of mostly traditional songs. Carthy Senior kicks the ball onto the pitch with a great version of "Her Servant Man" with a wonderfully steadfast vocal and stirring fiddle from Eliza. She in turn follows with a sumptuous version of Molly Drake's "Happiness" showing that Drake's own son Nick was not the only talent in the family. As for the emotive vocal of Eliza you would be a foolish soul not to track this one down. Both Carthy voices sing in unison for the first time on the album on the joyful "Blackwell Merry Night", whilst that old warhorse a "Grand Conversation on Napoleon" is given another outing on which the two artists show how folk music in classic stanzaic form should be done. The revisiting of Queen of Hearts" which was on Martin Carthy's debut nearly 50 years ago demonstrates how he remains a supreme master of the folk art. When it comes to "Bonny Moorhen" the Carthy's have not recorded the slightly better known Jacobite lament, but the rousing story of the men of Weardale's 19th Century revolt on land rights against the Bishop of Durham. It is stirring stuff and effortless in their hands, although the glorious "Died for Love" is its story telling match and warmly dedicated to Martin's late brother-in-law the remarkable Mike Waterson.

Another non traditional song alongside Molly Drake is Eliza's cover of the late Bard of Dundee, Michael Marra's "Monkey Hair". It tells the tale of the "wife of a Scottish minister who decides to cut him off from having any more children because he keeps sending their children away to war...to be killed." Throughout Eliza's voice is beautifully controlled and this version is an album standout, packed with drama and humanity. In one sense the "The Moral of the Elephant" is a relative companion piece to 2010's "The Gift" but with the father and daughter combination eschewing high profile guests and steering the ship in whatever direction they choose. The album is a heady mix and your reviewer can now thankfully post these thoughts and quickly return for yet another serving of this brilliant authentic music.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 5 Jun 2014
This is Martin and Eliza Carthy at their best. with voices guitar and fiddle to the fore. There are no unnecessary additional instruments or production; they just allow their quality to shine through. This is helped by a really well chosen collection of traditional songs.

Thank you to Fopp in Edinburgh for having this playing, I popped in for a wee look, not really intending to get anything but this album just grabbed me. I listen to a really wide range of musical genres, I am getting excited that Robert Fripp's reactivation of King Crimson might yet produce a new studio album of new material, but I am already in love with The Moral of the Elephant and my folk collection is now set for some intense listening, particularly the Waterson Carthy section and this album in particular.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mostly traditional folk songs, superbly performed, 3 Jun 2014
By 
Peter Durward Harris "Pete the music fan" (Leicester England) - See all my reviews
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Martin Carthy and his daughter Eliza team up here as a duo for the first time, though they were both members of Waterson Carthy. I was intrigued to find no musician credits in the booklet, but this is because nobody else was involved. All the songs were well-rehearsed and recorded as if live, without what is now thought customary mixing and overdubbing.

All the songs are traditional folk songs except Happiness (which the recorded after listening to a recording by Molly Drake) and Monkey hair (written by Michael Marra).

The title track is based on a poem by John Godfrey Saxe, but the poem itself originated in the Indian subcontinent, only spreading to Europe and America in the 19th century.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 19 July 2014
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A beautiful and imaginative album showing the exceptional talents of father and daughter.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 July 2014
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As you would expect from these two wonderful musicians, another great album from the Waterson dynasty.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best yet ... again, 30 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Moral of the Elephant (MP3 Download)
This really isn't fair on reviewers as it gets boring reading "this is the best album yet" from the Carthy stable (I know it's their first together) ... a terrific selection and arrangements of tunes old and new showcasing these two at the top of their game. They've kept it simple and that gives in a compelling intimacy. Loved the title track especially but all will be on my top playlist for some time.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This has joined my favourite CD shelf, 16 Jun 2014
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The only criticism I have of this collection is that it isn't long enough. I loved everyone of the fascinating songs.
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The Moral of the Elephant
The Moral of the Elephant by Martin & Eliza Carthy
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