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Waterson Carthy "A Dark Light" Topic TSCD536

Another CD from the "big guns". So, what's this one like? Time was, no one would ask this. If the names Carthy or Waterson were involved in any recording, it was. bung it on and enjoy. Sure, there were often challenging tracks and some that took time to sink in and some odd ones that were, odd, but there was always that warm glow about getting your hands on one you hadn't heard. However, comments like 'ordinary' and, 'nothing special' have been applied to some recent releases. So, what's this one like?

Well, it's more like back to the good old days. Which in many ways it is. The tracks are mostly in tribute to singers and song-carriers, including Seamus Ennis, The Copper Family, Almeda Riddle and Packie Byrne, who have had some bearing on the singers and players here, namely Norma Waterson, Martin Carthy, Eliza Carthy and Tim van Eyken.

The CD cracks on with "The Devil and the Farmer", "Seventeen Next Sunday", "The Outlandish Knight", "The Lofty Tall Ship" and "The Old Church Yard" - all as good as you hoped they would be. No hint or sign of being under-rehearsed or needing to try for one more "take". Even among the "stand out tracks" there are some that stand farther out than others: " Death and the Lady" from the whole band; "The Holland Handkerchief" from Norma Waterson; "May Morning" and "Diego's Bold Shore" from Eliza Carthy all resonate and jangle with emotion filling, inspirational singing. The final track is a glorious version of "Shepherds Arise" which turned even this dour cold-hearted humbug's thoughts towards the mid-winter festival!

Peter Fairbairn

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This album was reviewed in Issue 50 of The Living Tradition magazine.