Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band
Big Machine (Topic Records)
For those mourning the break-up of the folk big-band Bellowhead, Eliza Carthy’s 12-strong Wayward crew are here to fill the void. Freewheeling brass, spiky guitars, energetic vocals, soaring strings and boldly inventive arrangements reupholster ancient broadside ballads alongside a Ewan MacColl classic and more contemporary songs, such as Carthy’s ‘You Know Me’, an uplifting folk-rock hip-hop response to the refugee crisis. And as if The Wayward Band weren’t already expansive enough, additional guests include Teddy Thompson, Bristol rapper MC Dizraeli and the Irish singer Damien Dempsey.
As for Carthy, the quality and range of her singing has never been more impressive, leading several critics to hail Big Machine as her ‘coming of age’ moment. Given that she’s been making great records for more than 20 years, that may seem an odd claim, but is perhaps indicative that she’s now ready to take over the baton from her parents Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy as the first family of folk’s principal standard bearer. Not that the older generation is yet done, by any means – Eliza’s next album Anchor, due in June 2018, is a collection of duets with her mother Norma and features guest vocals from her father.