CARDBOARD FOX – Topspin (own label, CARRIVICKSCD09)

TopspinFeaturing the shared lead vocals of sisters Charlotte and Laura Carrivick (who also perform as a duo), with backing provided by Joe Tozer and John Breese, Topspin is the Bath quartet’s third release and second album, a meld of English traditional folk and American bluegrass influences built around the core instrumentation of fiddle, mandolin, guitar and double bass augmented here and there with banjo, lap steel, trumpet and electric guitar.

Charlotte on lead, the opening cut, ‘Empty Skies’, lays out their folk-Americana in fine style, hints of Celtic influences mingling with the Appalachian backwoods while ‘Dynamite’ is a gloriously infectious burst of folk pop with pizzicato fiddle and throbbing double-bass fleshed out by some nimble acoustic fingerwork.

Elsewhere, the self-penned material includes sprightly instrumental showcase ‘Nelly’, the rippling acoustic fretwork of the traditional flavoured ‘Awful As Silence’, sweetly sung by Laura who occasionally reminds me of Jess Morgan, and, another with a traditional bluegrassy mien, ‘Until The Dawn’ with ‘Roll Away’ following a similar path but with more of a hoedown feel.

The album also sees them dipping their toes in different waters too, first, led by Breese’s bass, on ‘Right Swiper’, a playfully jazzy folk account of Tinder dating that includes the line “you’re the Wallace to my Gromit” and then the 20s swing feel of ‘On Your Side’ followed directly by a cover of Owl City’s synth pop ‘Fireflies,’ here arranged for plinking violins and mandolin with Josh Clark on programming.

It’s one of two covers, the other being a simple mandolin, bass and scratchy violin arrangement of Gillian Welch’s dark folk blues ‘Tear My Stillhouse Down’, the album ending with everyone pitching on to write the easy and airy Americana lap steel shaded skippingly rhythmic ‘Ghosts’. Reportedly, their last album saw Bill Oddie shed a tear of joy. This should have him weeping buckets.

Mike Davies

Artists’ website:

‘Ghosts’ – official video:


The Carrivick Sisters are twins Laura and Charlotte Carrivick from South Devon. Both are skilled multi-instrumentalists and between them they play a variety of bluegrass-associated instruments – guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro and fiddle. Though just 21 years old, Laura and Charlotte are already accomplished songwriters, fine individual singers, and they harmonise hauntingly, as often only siblings can, their beguiling voices blending together irresistibly. Although their principle influence is bluegrass, their music also has a strong folk influence, with many of their original songs inspired by their local landscape and stories.

The Carrivick Sisters are experienced performers, having played all over the UK, in Europe, and in Canada. They have released three previous CDs – My Own Two Feet (2006), Better Than 6 Cakes (2007) and Jupiter’s Corner (2009) and have just completed their fourth album, From The Fields.

Produced and recorded by Joe Rusby (brother of Kate) at Pure Records Studio, From the Fields comprises eleven originals; ten songs and one instrumental, and one traditional song ‘Early, Early In The Spring’ and features contributions from guest musicians: John Breese (Banjo), BJ Cole (Pedal Steel), Eleanor Cross (Double Bass), Matt Crum (Melodeon) and David Kosky (Guitar),

The Carrivick Sisters first started performing as a duo in 2006, originally as buskers before starting to play more and more proper gigs, turning professional when they left school in 2007. As well as performing as ‘The Carrivick Sisters’, Laura and Charlotte have also played with a number of other bands – Blue South, Miles Apart, Banjo Accelerator; Kick Up the Grass and currently ‘Andsome and Some.

In 2007 they won the South West Busker’s and Street Entertainer’s Competition, gaining themselves their first spot at Glastonbury Festival. In 2008 Laura achieved 2nd place at the RockyGrass Fiddle Contest in America. More recently, The Carrivick Sisters were finalists in the prestigious BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards 2010.

I am very impressed by The Carrivick Sisters, one of the best young duos I’ve heard. The girls sing and play as one and their work is characterised by great musicality. They are not only very talented instrumentalists and singers but they write really good songs as well.” Ralph McTell

Artist Web link: