The Carrivick Sisters – Illustrated Short Stories: Album Review

The Carrivick Sisters – Charlotte and Laura – bring bluegrass into the West country.

Release Date: Available now

Label: self released CARRIVICKSCD10

Format: CD / digital

Hard to believe that Illustrated Short Stories is the seventh album from The Carrivick Sisters. Any thoughts of sibling rivalry – we’re not talking the Gallagher brothers here – can be translated into something more like sibling empathy.

The duo has taken the bold step of forsaking the traditional canon and prepared a set of original songs and tunes. The West country proves a fruitful and ripe source for picking out stories and tales as they apply their bluegrass leanings to an essentially English collection. . The scene is set, giving the album its core theme that’s further enlightened by the sketch work in the package.

The ‘less is more’ approach (although I’ve seen live agent Ant Miles from Fancourt Music, roadie-ing their gear…) is enhanced by another expert record-mix-master job from Josh Clark at Get Real Audio who’s becoming as increasingly present in those circles as Andy Bell and Steven Wilson. An expert too at capturing the up close and personal intimacy, the tone is set in a rustic vein as we cross the ocean for a West country/ Atlantic mash-up before giving way to an aching dobro. An instrument that often hints quite openly at sadness and melancholy, it paves the way for tragic tales of forbidden love, jealousy, war and neglect.

1912 and War Games both explore the impact of war. Cleverly placed side by side and perhaps the centrepiece of the set, there may be a temptation for us to think that the child playing war games in the latter is the same son born to a tragic couple of the former tale. The final line, “My only son, I was right to worry,” portrays a universal truth. Tragedy is never far away as the dog’s tale of Crying To The Moon, including the human howling, adds an unusual perspective to the complexity of relationships and with “newborn babe torn from her breast“, the mother of a lost babe haunts a local road. The olde tyme banjo and bluesy fiddle take the latter further into the darkness until “the church bells toll for our loss” mourns the changes for our planet.

In contrast, the rare appearance of electric guitar on Ever Really Know inject a much-appreciated brightness and the musical box simplicity of Amsterdam is a music hall delight that conjures up a warm singalong chorus part. The finale of Digging Up The Rosebush brings us back home with a cheerful sparkle and even the chance to cut a rug or two.

English tales and folklore given a bluegrassy coat and finish. A blend that’s both charming and homely.

Here are the Carrivick Sisters doing Over The Edge:

The Carrivick Sisters online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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