Little Lights

Third solo album by the Pride Of Barnsley with a now familiar mix of trad and originals. Guests include Eddi Reader, Danny Thompson and Mike McGoldrick. Rusby says that the weight of expectation weighed heavily on her during the making of this album, but it doesn't show/ . Adopting the attitude that if it ain't broke don't fix it, she's made an album that continues the unfettered charm and emotional purity that marked her previous two collections. Subtly more sophisticated and arranged, it again represents and immaculate bridge between the source singers of old and new folk cred. It's hard to have much sympathy for the criticism that she's made the same LP three times when Little lights exudes such warmth and beauty. There are surprises, too: her heart-stopping version of Richard Thompson's Withered and Died does the same job as Our Town on Sleepless eclipsed only by Who Will Sing me Lullabies?, her deeply affecting tribute to the late Davey Steele of Battlefield Band. She's still got that Midas touch. Colin Irwin Third album from Mercury Prize-nominated, flag-waving folk princess. Encouragingly there's been little summer transfer activity among the Kate Rusby squad. Mum and Dad still run the label, longtime collaborator John McCusker produces, with Andy Seward and Joe Rusby engineering, while her house band of Ian Carr, Andy Cutting, Michael McGoldrick at al add the necessary instrumental colour. Katte Rusby's gifts are many: melodic, truthful, able to write with an authentic voice ' the joyous I Courted a Sailor is indistinguishable from the real thing. Here the cast of folk characters and themes is in place: maidenhead, wagers, rings, oppressive fathers, disguise and cautionary tales such as Playing of Ball and Matt Hyland, where the moral seems to be 'don't fall in love with Kate'. Track for track it doesn't match 1999's hourglass, but she's still the best there is. Rob Beattie The flourishing cottage industry that is the Rusby family, with parents, brother and sister involved, rejects the notion that folk must by definition be amateurish. No-one could question the professionalism of this third solo album: Little Lights is meticulously packaged, and marketed with due emphasis on Rusby's attractive appearance. It is also a model of graceful simplicity, dreamy vocals bolstered by a convincing array of musicians. There, though, the concessions end. Rusby continues to use the outmoded language of traditional balladry ' 'somr tyrant has stolen my true love away' ' and persists with that rich outh Yorkshire accent instead of sounding as if she has been fished out of the mid-Atlantic. No playlist planner will be awyaed when I declare this a quite sumptuous record ' but to people hooked on folk, it is none the worse for that. Colin Randall The follow-up to her 1999 mercury Prize-nominated alum Sleepless finds Rusby developing her own writing style with five of her own compositions and a couple of traditional folk ballads. Her effortless singing and faultless phrasing is proof positive that Kate Rusby is the finest female folk singer to hit the scene in two decades. Nigel Williamson If 1999's Sleepless took Barnsley's Kate Rusby out of the folk clubs and into the national consciousness, Little Lights confirms her as one of the great contemporary folk singers. The soulful purity of her vocals, and her understated performance invests songs such as 'Who Will Sing Me Lullabies' and 'My Young Man' with an emotional depth rare in one so young. Indeed Little Lights is a triumph for Rusby's growth as a writer and arranger, for the blend of traditional and original material here is seamless and assured. Produced by the multi-talented John McCusker, and supported by a stellar studio band, with guests such as Eddie Reader, Micheal McGoldrick, and members of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, Kate Rusby and Little Lights are set to shine on and on. Colin Hall
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