Eliza Carthy and Ben Seal’s Through That Sound (My Secret Was Made Known) marks a departure from Carthy’s more traditional folk sound for which she’s best known, into more experimental forays.
Seal’s influence is all over this. The Fife based producer, composer and musician steers a gorgeous, sometimes unsettling electronic wave, buffeting the songs from the throbbing Ships Passing to the emotionally raw tribute to Carthy’s late Aunt Lal in The Black Queen.
The band are terrific (also featuring Willy Molleson, Phil Alexander and Pete Furniss) and Carthy’s gorgeous voice is like a robust red wine- this much we’ve always known- but the new jazz direction suits her fine. Mean To Me and Until Then (The Goodnight Song) are torch songs for the twenty first century, with the former a slinky sort of duet with Seal and the latter a brooding, sweeping epic with a cinematic sheen.
Strings are like sinews on Mr McFall’s Chamber; Our Savage Friends has a bruised lyrical intensity and vulnerability like a shared secret.
Coming on as a twenty first century Lotte Lenya for lockdown, she’s like a siren with good- if often mischievous- intentions. Drink long and deep, and let these siren songs guide you, from choppy waters in uncertain times to the safety and comfort of dry land.
Out now via Hem Hem Records.