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Saul Rose, Eliza Carthy and Dave Delarre, sitting on a wall and looking into the camera.

Eliza Carthy announces new album and releases initial sample track

Pub quiz question: what links Eliza Carthy to the Beatles? Pre-order her new album, Conversations We've Had Before, and find out.

The last time we heard from Eliza Carthy, the fabled folkie was in full band mode, revisiting her back catalogue on 2022’s Queen of the Whirl. Scroll forward a year and she’s out and about with two of her most trusted gentlemen colleagues, Saul Rose and Dave Delarre, kicking up the dust as a nimble, knockabout trio, travelling light and no doubt coming to a stage near you pretty darn soon.

And the good news just keeps on coming for Eliza fans, as she has just announced her latest sonic adventure: a whole new album with said trio, entitled Conversations We’ve Had Before. Due for release via her new Bandcamp page on June 30th (download only), very little info has been revealed so far, although Tradfolk is able to bring the tantalising news that there are 13 tracks on the album, mostly traditional. The trio was recorded live in the studio, with the singer adding her vocals over one mammoth, single-day session.

Those that pre-order the album today get an initial sample track to take away with them, a recording of ‘Golden Slumbers’ [Roud V18438]. Opening with Saul Rose on melodeon, shortly joined by Dave Delarre on a gently-picked gut-string guitar, the trio is eventually completed by Eliza’s fiddle and vocal, front and centre. It’s a gentle waltz tune befitting the title (although, if you’re planning on using it to lull your baby into a doze, you should know that it eventually builds to a crescendo of instruments and cascading backing vocals that only the soundest of sleepers could snooze through). Anyone holding the opinion that Carthy does her best work in these paired-down formats is in for a treat; this hors d’oeuvres certainly hints at a rather delicious album to come.

‘Golden Slumbers’

16 entries for the lullaby can be found at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at Cecil Sharp House, the earliest of which dates to 1820. However, the lyrics were originally part of a poem by the Elizabethan poet and dramatist Thomas Dekker (1570-1632), first appearing in his play, Patient Grissel, published in 1603. The Elizabethan impresario, Philip Henslowe, noted the poem’s existence in his diary as early as 1599.

Of course, Beatles fans will instantly recognise the title and the refrain (“Golden slumbers kiss your eyes, smiles awake you when you rise, sleep little wantons, do not cry, and I will sing you a lullaby”) from the 1969 album, Abbey Road. John Lennon recalled the song in his last major interview only weeks before his assassination in New York:

That’s Paul, apparently from a poem he found in a book, some eighteenth-century book where he just changed the words here and there.

John Lennon, David Sheff interview, 1980

Indeed, McCartney himself explained how the song came about in the Beatles Anthology book, published in 2000:

I was playing the piano in Liverpool in my dad’s house, and my stepsister Ruth’s piano book was up on the stand. I was flicking through it and I came to ‘Golden Slumbers’. I can’t read music and I couldn’t remember the old tune, so I just started playing my own tune to it. I liked the words so I kept them, and it fitted with another bit of song I had.

Paul McCartney, Anthology, 2000

So, there you have it: the answer to the inevitable future pub quiz question, “What links Eliza Carthy to The Beatles?” Find out for yourself by pre-ordering Conversations We’ve Had Before and downloading ‘Golden Slumbers’ today.

For more information on Eliza Carthy, head to eliza-carthy.com. To visit her Bandcamp page, head to elizacarthy.bandcamp.com.