Pioneering English traditional folk powerhouse, Eliza Carthy, first assembled the Wayward Band in 2013 in order to explore and celebrate her long and varied career in folk music; ‘the last truly underground music scene’. To do this Eliza put together a team of hugely talented people from across the UK, and set out on the road to promote her ‘Best Of’ compilation, Wayward Daughter (Topic Records), which coincided with a biography of the same name. Since then the band has become a festival favourite, and Eliza has been awarded the MBE for services to folk music. Eliza and the Wayward Band loved playing together so much it seemed natural and inevitable, as well as characteristically ambitious, that this 12-piece would set about recording an album. Early in 2016 they did just that. ‘Big Machine’ is the result and the renowned Real World and Rockfield Studios are where it all happened. ‘Big Machine’, co-produced with Eliza and Jim Sutherland, will be released on 3rd February 2017 by Topic Records.
The material represents a healthy slice of everything good that is happening in traditional music now, across a sparkling spectrum of sound. The album features three contemporary songs; Eliza’s own “You Know Me” about the migrant crisis and notions of hospitality (featuring MC Dizraeli), a powerful cover of Ewan Maccoll’s Radio Ballad “The Fitter’s Song” (at the behest of Peggy Seeger – and the song which inspired the album title) and an affectionate reworking of “Hug You Like a Mountain” (Rory MacLeod), re-imagined here as a duet with Teddy Thompson.
There are also several examples of the Broadside ballad collections housed in Chetham’s Library in Manchester given a new twist with music by Eliza and the band. This follows an acclaimed programme Eliza presented for Radio 4 about the Manchester Ballads last year, covering everything from songs about and caused by domestic abuse (“Devil in the Woman”, “Fade and Fall (Love Not)”), to love of the seafaring life (“The Sea”). Added to that a couple of searing instrumentals, a song about dying from custard poisoning and a heartbreaking traditional ballad “I Wish that the Wars were all Over” (performed live with the band onstage in Real World Studios’ Studio One and featuring Irish superstar Damien Dempsey), and you begin to get the picture. A very Big picture, a Big Machine firing on all cylinders. ‘Big Machine’ is one of Eliza Carthy’s most adventurous and accomplished works to date – and given that Eliza is the most passionate and groundbreaking English traditional singer of her generation, ‘Big Machine’ is an album you really won’t want to miss.
Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band played at a few key festivals this Summer including Cambridge, FolkEast, Tonder (Denmark), Purbeck and Shrewsbury before embarking on a 13 date tour in November, including a suitably explosive 5th November gig at London’s Assembly Hall.
Listen to music