Amember of Yorkshire’s Waterson/Carthy folk dynasty, Marry sings in a style reminiscent of her late mother, Lal, and her aunt Norma; strong but plaintive, with a tendency to wistfulness that comes through on this set of originals around the theme of loss. David A Jaycock’s intricate acoustic guitar provides a sweet foil, creating a dreamy atmosphere on New Love Song and a title track about a maiden’s death. Producer Adrian Utley (of Portishead) is content to keep things simple; opener The Vain Jackdaw, based on an Aesop fable, recorded unaccompanied on a rooftop, is delightful, but elsewhere the mood remains relentlessly forlorn..
Marry Waterson’s reputation proceeds her. Well, not strictly hers. She’s the daughter of Lal – one quarter of the Watersons – the dynastic folk family who’ve made one of the most significant contributions to 20th century English folk music (see Bright Phoebus review, RC 469). Their stock continues to rise, thanks in no small part to the continued brilliance of their offspring.
Eliza Carthy (daughter of Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy) is a star in her own right; consistently dismantling and expanding the possibilities of how folk songs can be interpreted.
This album begins with a woman on a rooftop alone, singing to the birds, her voice gutsy, darkly magical. Since her first album away from her folk dynasty family, 2015’s Two Wolves, with outstanding guitarist David A Jaycock, Marry Waterson’s many talents have been unfurling themselves, like late-season roses bursting from cut branches. This record’s mood is bracing and physical, swaying between solo Sandy Denny and tracks by Waterson’s own mother Lal on the recently reissued Bright Phoebus, its backing band from the worlds of alternative pop and rock (Portishead’s Adrian Utley produces, while Kathryn Williams, John Parish and Romeo Stodart provide subtle support).