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Angels & Cigarettes

Angels & Cigarettes

5.0 2
by Eliza Carthy
Although she's in her mid-20s, vocalist/songwriter/fiddler Eliza Carthy has centuries of music in her background: Her parents are British folk legends Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, and she's grown up performing with them in the family combo Waterson/Carthy. On her fourth solo album, Angels and


Although she's in her mid-20s, vocalist/songwriter/fiddler Eliza Carthy has centuries of music in her background: Her parents are British folk legends Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson, and she's grown up performing with them in the family combo Waterson/Carthy. On her fourth solo album, Angels and Cigarettes, however, Eliza is obviously less concerned with the past than the present. Aside from a moody reinvention of Paul Weller's "Wildwood," she composed all the songs, and her narratives of lust and longing are as likely to feature trip-hop beats and electronic burbles as her own reeling violin lines. While Carthy is adept at writing lilting pop songs, such as the aptly titled "Perfect" (with B. J. Cole on lap steel), her real gift is her ability to create songs that echo the atmosphere of traditional folk ballads while sounding completely contemporary. On "Train Song," she transforms an archetypal demon lover into a man who is the object of a doomed voyeuristic obsession. More often, the echoes come from the cadences of Carthy's husky, mellowed voice, especially on the wistful "Fuse" and the provocative "The Company of Men," both of which feature Van Dyke Parks's elaborate string arrangements. "I don't want to be one of the beautiful people/'cause beautiful people are boring," she sings on "The Company of Men." Carthy needn't worry; Angels and Cigarettes is often beautiful but never boring.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Ronnie D. Lankford
Eliza Carthy comes from a family steeped in traditional folk, so it may seem somewhat disconcerting to see her with blue-streaked hair and pierced nose. While the music itself shows that Carthy hasn't completely turned her back on her roots, she is clearly determined to make her own path. Grounded in the folk and singer/songwriter school, she doesn't mind lacing her sound with pop rhythms, keyboards, and even trip-hop. Call it experimental folk. "Beautiful Girl" pushes forward with electronics and driving drums, creating a catchy beat that wouldn't be out of place on a Madonna album. However, the difference is the words, with biting lyrics like "Beautiful girl I know you're probably dead clever/But you're only gorgeous once and you'll be clever forever." The opening track, "Whispers of Summer," is much more folky, with Carthy's fiddle rising above the drum track to create a danceable melody. This cut is more upbeat than much of the material on the album. "The Company of Men" begins with a lyric about giving sexual favors "to men who didn't want me anymore"; the more oblique "Poor Little Me" is about a death, perhaps an abortion. Songs like "Train Song" and "Fuse" explore love and lust, themes that run throughout Angels & Cigarettes. These lyrics are at times emotionally bare, and everyone may not be comfortable with Carthy's revelations. But she seems determined to purge these emotions by turning them into art. The result is ten well-written songs, filled with searching lyrics and an innovative sound. For those who enjoy folk that's willing to take musical chances, Angels & Cigarettes is a gratifying release.

Product Details

Release Date:
Warner Bros Uk

Related Subjects


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Eliza Carthy   Primary Artist,Guitar,Violin,Keyboards,Viola,Vocals,Octave Violin
Martin Carthy   Guitar
Van Dyke Parks   Piano,Conductor
B.J. Cole   Pedal Steel Guitar
Phil Johnson   Hammond Organ,Hammond Synth
Alan Prosser   Guitar
Scott   Organ,Keyboards
Carole Steele   Percussion,Bongos,Conga
Carol Steele   Percussion,Bongos,Conga
Leland Sklar   Bass
Ben Ivitsky   Guitar,Violin,Vocals,Noise,Moog Lead
Heather Macleod   Noise
Mondriaan Quartet   Strings
Lucy Adams   Noise
Martin Green   Accordion,Keyboards,Moog Lead

Technical Credits

Van Dyke Parks   Arranger
Scott   Producer,Engineer
Colin Walker   Engineer
Geoff Foster   Engineer
Stéphane Briand   Engineer
Steve Martin   Representation
Jake Rousham   Engineer
Gareth White   Art Direction
Dolphin Boy   Programming

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Angels & Cigarettes 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This new album is being promoted as Eliza's debut! Although she has three other albums under her own name (or with the Kings of Callicut) and records with her parents (Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy) as Waterson-Carthy; this is a fresh direction for 'Liza! She progresses from the electronic experimentation of last year's Red Rice and mixes in her superlative folk fiddling, to produce a pop album of uncommon beauty. Not for purists then, but Angels & Cigarettes is highly recommended for the open minded music lover looking for great modern music!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Being one of the folky brand of Eliza Carthy fans, I was relatively reticent in approaching this new album. However, jollity abounded when 'Whispers of Summer' proved to be a hummable and well instrumented ditty of the highest order, smacking of a hot day's declining hours; I was relieved also to know that the familiar fiddle had not been cast aside. 'Whole' is an urbane trip-hoppy number and Eliza's warm voice seems to glide over catchy instrumentation. 'Company of Men' is lyrically clever, the almost throw-away, sing-along melody sitting disettlingly at odds with the disturbing subject matter, and surreal string accompaniment. 'Perfect' is an uplifting song with folk-wisdom lyrics and a Mediterranean feel, ideal for a cathartic self-improving sing-along. 'Fuse' has a has a lovely untethered feel to the melody, and Eliza's rendering of Weller's 'Wildwood' makes very good use of the strength of her voice, putting a very distinctive, ethereal spin on a popular song. However, for me, the stand-out of the album is the extraordinary 'Train Song', fraught with sexual tension, hopelessly (anti)romantic.