England's best traditional folk singer/musician. Instead of the MBE he should have been knighted! (even if he probably wouldn't accept it). I had this album on vinyl and jumped at the chance when the CD version was issued. Whilst this album was recorded nearly 30 years ago - IMHO this is Martin at his confident best. The songs are very strong and make you think, smile or both. My favourite track is (still) 'Famous Flower of Serving Men' and must be played very LOUD. Use this album as a springboard to discover Martin's other work (solo and with Dave Swarbrick). Enjoy...
I'm quite surprised nobody has reviewed this one. A bit musically starker and leaner than most Carthy albums and with a fair bit of unaccompanied singing on some tracks. It takes a bit of getting into but it's worth the effort. As someone with an ancestry of good English agricultural peasant stock I found this album an enjoyable and interesting insight in to a lost world...if you want to know where you come from listen to this. However more esoteric thoughts aside... this album has strong songs, great lyrics with moving stories to tell and is all the more powerful for often having somewhat sparse arrangements.
Shearwater is yet another fantastic album from Martin Carthy. After so many albums both as a duo with Dave Swarbrick and as a solo artist, you would expect the quality to be fading. But far from it. This album is one of the strongest albums by Martin Carthy. He had recorded throughout the 1960s with Dave Swarbrick until joining folk rock group Steeleye Span. In 1971 he had left Steeleye and recorded is first solo album Landfall. This album Shearwater, was recorded the same year but released in 1972.
For this album, every track is Traditional in origin. All of the pieces are arranged by Martin. These songs have obviously been carefully chosen. These songs are rich in terms of the stories in the lyrics. These songs have been passed down through generations and depict the lives and issues of the people. There are some great English folk songs on this programme. Martin gives us his own tune to the traditional words of "outlandish Knight". There are the stories of Lord Randall and John Blunt. And this album contains a fantastic version of "Betsy Bell and Mary Grey". The is a story about victims of the plague. Here we also get the added vocals of Maddy Prior from Steeleye Span. This is not the only stand out track on the album. All of the tracks are very good and the whole project is very special.
Martin Carthy has been an important pioneer of English Folk Music. He has a unique style of vocal and guitar performance. He has created a wealth of recordings of outstanding quality. These recordings have helped to revive and preserve traditional songs of Britain. This album is one of the finest recordings that he has produced. It is highly recommended to anyone that likes folk music, English folk music or Martin Carthy.