Nostalgic turns

by

comment

Among influential English guitarists such as Richard Thompson, Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, Martin Carthy is an icon who first injected traditional elements into the contemporary folk milieu 40 years ago. His version of "Scarborough Fair" predated Simon and Garfunkel’s interpretation by three years and there’s little doubt where Rhymin’ Simon procured the arrangement for his million-selling hit. As a member of Steeleye Span, the Albion Band and the Watersons – all during the ’70s – Carthy solidified his reputation as a premier representative of the British folk movement. On Signs of Life, he performs a variety of compositions that have somehow touched him personally, gracefully singing songs by the likes of Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan amid a variety of old British traditionals. In plain voice and with a guitar style that embraces melody, harmony and basslines simultaneously, Carthy carries a strong sense of history.

Accompanied by his daughter Eliza on fiddle, his cover of the Bee Gees’ "New York Mining Disaster 1941" sounds as if it could have been performed a half-century ago. "Heartbreak Hotel" is the first song Carthy ever learned to play from a phonograph record and his version here is wryly entertaining and slyly nostalgic. The cover of Hoagy Carmichael’s "Hong Kong Blues" is a smooth, lucid and rollicking tune, while his powerful performance of Dylan’s "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" makes clear that Carthy is still a dyed-in-the-wool folkie. If you’re looking to hear folk music straight from the source, Martin Carthy’s the man.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.