Norma Waterson is one of the great voices of English song.
From her recordings in the early 60s with family band The Watersons – the Yorkshire-born singer has long represented a paradigm of authenticity – which doesn’t mean she can’t bring the same integrity to a Tom Waits tune that she gives to an old English folk song.
Anchor is the first new recording from the 78-year old Waterson in almost a decade – and it’s wonderful.
Until a few years ago she performed regularly as with her husband Martin and daughter Eliza as Waterson-Carthy – but has been largely retired since a serious illness in 2010.
So this new album – billed as Norma Waterson and Eliza Carthy – but also featuring strong contributions from Martin – marks a welcome return.
Her voice is weathered yet seems to have wings; her way with a song is undiminished.
Nick Lowe’s ‘The Beast In Me’ – originally written for Johnny Cash – might be one of the best songs on the subject of human duality and Norma Waterson gives it a sublime reading.