TWENTY

R2 Dec 12 ✭✭✭✭ Marking twenty years of making music, Kate Rusby revisits her illustrious past on the appropriately titled 20, a beautiful collection of nineteen newly recorded versions of her favourige songs.  'Sun Grazers' - a self-penned, soulful duet with Paul Weller, previously unrecorded - makes up the twenty. Reminding us how hugely influential Rusby has been in persuading a new audience to seriously engage with folk music, whilst also reflecting her stature within the wider musical community, Weller is just one of an array of luminaries joining in the celebrations.  Thus, while Rusby's voice remains absolutely centre stage, 20 is also graced by contributions from Richard Thompson (on a tender reading of 'Who Will Sing Me Lullabies?'), Eddi Reader, Paul Brady, Dick Gaughan, Dobro king Jerry Douglas, Radiohead drummer Phil Selway, Mary Chapin Carpenter, bluegrass aces Chris Thile and Sarah Jarosz and, most touchingly, Kate's beloved Nic Jones ('The Lark'). Rusby's own songs have always stood shoulder to shoulder alongside her peerless interpretations of tunes from the tradition (check out 20's 'The Wild Goose' featuring Stephen Fretwell), and while 20 is a mixture of both, the balance favours Rusby compositions.  All have stood the test of time, while Kate's heartbreak vocals remain utterly spellbinding. Collin Hall MOJO Dec 12 Richard Thompson, Paul Weller and more help Rusby reinvent her back catalogue. After two decades of music-making, Kate Rusby finds an enterprising way of celebrating, revisiting 20 of her favourite tracks in company with a selection of heroes and chums.  It may smack a little of a vanity exercise, but while some of the guests appear to bring very little to the party, the diversions paradosically allow the full effect of Rusby's own potent vulnerability to emerge with more clarity.  The refreshing varied arrangements - concentrated mainly on her own material - also comprehensively demonstrat that she's a far better songwriter than usually credited and her soulful, tension-filled Sun Grazers duet with Paul Weller - the one brand-new song on the collection - elicits an effectively urgent vocal from Weller.  Richard Thompson and Radiohead's Philip Selway add weightily to the poignancy of Who Will Sing Me Lullabies and Nic Jones adds sublime harmonies on The Lark to ensure the Rusby light still shines bright. Colin Irwin The Daily Telegraph 3.11.12 Celebrating two decades of making quirky, tremulous and touching folk music, the "Barnsley Nightingale" has released this two-disc reworking of some of her best loved songs with a host of special guests including Paul Weller, Richard Thompson, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Eddi Reader and Radiohead's drummer, Phil Selway.  It plays out like a studio-quality live record, thoughtful enough to engage the fan (although not always as intense as the originals) and strong enough to tempt newcomers.  Here's to 20 more years. Helen Brown   Mail on Sunday 28.10.12 As Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling take fetchingly folky wares to the masses, one hopes it's of knock-on benefit to lifers such as Barnsley's Kate Rusby.  This set of collaborations reminds us she's been at it for two decades, with just a 1999 Mercury nomination and one Top 40 album to show for it.  But she is rich in the respect of her peers, with guests on all 20 songs, most from her catalogue and rerecorded.  Paul Weller drops in on a lone new track Sun Grazers, Richard Thompson and Radiohead's Philip Selway turn out for Who Will Sing Me Lullabies, and Eddi Reader, Mary Chapin Carpenter and husband Damien O'Kane pop up elsewhere, but the voice of Rusby, a singer of remarkable warmth, is the one that rings through.   BBC Music - 19.10.12
A Rusby album with a different hue… and none the worse for that.
In 1992 Kate Rusby was, you fondly imagine, a nervy teenager who couldn’t have dreamed of the outstanding career that lay ahead. The notion of a gentle young singer from Yorkshire with a mostly traditional repertoire lighting up a largely moribund British folk scene and going on to achieve substantial crossover success was way off the register. Yet here she is, in 2012, celebrating 20 years as a performer by re-imagining some of the tracks that helped speed her remarkable journey. She’s joined on this double-CD set by some high-profile chums, notably Paul Weller, Richard Thompson, Jerry Douglas, Nic Jones, Chris Thile, Paul Brady, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Stephen Fretwell and Eddi Reader. The same thing that seduced audiences in those early days – her exceptionally tender voice – still stops you in your tracks. And while her critics point accusingly at a string of albums that are seemingly interchangeable, her innate ability to connect with a wider audience with her disarming vulnerability undoubtedly played its role in Brit folk’s unexpected rebirth through the 2000s. Despite an inexplicably drab sleeve, the album works on several levels. It’s a fine introductory calling card for interested new arrivals, as well as an enlightened and novel "greatest hits" collection. And then there’s the curiosity of listening to her interact with the various guests, sometimes revealing a dimension we hadn’t previously glimpsed. The Paul Weller duet Sun Grazers, for example – the only song she hadn’t previously recorded – is exceptionally good, another indication of her gradual blossoming as a songwriter. This is comprehensively verified by the melancholic spells weaved by Who Will Sing Me Lullabies (with Richard Thompson on electric guitar/vocals and Radiohead’s Phil Selway on percussion), Underneath the Stars (with Grimethorpe Colliery Band) and the more acidic Mocking Bird, with Sara Watkins. She even takes the opportunity to record with some of her own defining influences, like Dick Gaughan, Dave Burland and Nic Jones, the latter making his own mark with glorious harmonies on The Lark. Not everything works – the Paul Brady duet All God’s Angels sounds laboured – but this is a Rusby album with a different hue… and none the worse for that. Colin Irwin  
The Arts Desk - Oct 2012 Year after year Kate Rusby, one of the undisputed stars of the British folk revival, turns out quality albums and even better live performances. Ten years ago she celebrated a decade in the business with a collection of re-recordings and unreleased material. Ten years on, she has put together a double CD that features a number of star collaborators and less well-known but equally talented friends and contains new versions of her favourite songs. The magic Rusby touch is characterised by a sweet and soft-toned vocal style and a heart-warming melancholy. It’s not by accident that the family company, Pure Records, should be named for a quality that excludes unnecessary adornment or excessive show. Kate Rusby has always gone straight for the heart, and she is joined on this double CD by musicians who travel the same road, from velvet-toned country singer Mary Chapin Carpenter to a stripped-down Paul Weller. All the voices have been chosen to provide a textural counterpoint to Rusby’s trademark sweetness: bluegrass newcomer Sarah Jarosz on “Planets”, the Irish giant Paul Brady on “All God’s Angels”, Richard Thompson on “Who Will Sing Me Lullabies” and the influential and under-rated Nic Jones on “The Lark". Jerry Douglas’s gently sliding guitar provides an extra transatlantic flavour on a couple of tracks. The arrangements are flawless, with a combination of passion and understatement that holds the vocals well. The collection’s uniformity of tone – the happy sadness that goes with melancholy moods – makes it a perfect homeopathic cure as autumn draws in, though there is something unrelenting about the mid-paced gentility of it all. And yet, Kate Rusby deserves praise for the characteristic generosity she demonstrates in bringing together such a treasure-house of like-minded talents. Mark Kidel   Folk Radio October 2012 Today marks the release of Kate Rusby’s new album ’20′, this is no ordinary release, besides celebrating her 20 years of musical creativity Island Records have resurrected their ‘Island Pink’ label for this release, a fanfare if ever there was one as Kate joins the likes of Nick Drake and Fairport Convention who have also graced the label. The album features a host of guest artists from the likes of Richard Thompson, Nic Jones, Dick Gaughan, Paul Weller, Eddie Reader and more. Kate very kindly took some time out of her busy schedule to talk to Folk Radio UK about the album and her musical roots. Kate Rusby comes from a strong musical family, one that has brought a huge influence on her music. She was born in 1973 in Sheffield, England and from a young age she was exposed to the burgeoning British folk scene. “Me dad worked on the live side of the music scene in the 70s” Kate explains “he was a sound man for loads of different artists, working on tours and at festivals around the UK. When we were kids we were packed into the car or van along with the gear and travelled around with him to shows all over. Me mam and dad were huge folk fans and so we grew up singing in the car on our way to gigs. They also had their own ceilidh band that me and my sister Emma joined when we were old enough to hold a tambourine! We later graduated to playing fiddle and guitar and singing.” Whilst those days may seem a long way away now Kate Rusby has kept her music a very family affair involving them in the runing her label (Pure Records) and management. Not surprsingly this a proud family moment: “My family are very proud It’s a real honour for me, and the Pink label is a very special touch. I always loved listening to ‘Crazy Man Michael’ from ‘Liege & Lief ‘ when I was growing up.” When you look at the line-up on ’20′ many of the names read like a who’s who of the folk world. The likes of Nic Jones, Bob Fox and Dick Gaughan are legendary, selecting the artists for this album could not have been easy, made all the more harder with a baby girl on the way. “It was difficult to boil down the song selection to just 20 songs,” she explains “because songs are like children, aren’t they – you love them all equally! I suppose I tried to choose the songs that my fans would expect to hear when they come to see me. We decided to do new versions rather than take the easy option of compiling a ‘greatest hits’ and I thought it would add something extra to have artists I’ve admired over the years helping us out. It was quite a tall order but I’m really pleased with the results. I had a C-section with Phoebe, but we had to keep going because we had a deadline to meet. I was sat in hospital with my laptop emailing musicians and singers about dates and lyrics. You just get on with these things if you have to, don’t you?” “It’s well documented that Nic is my all-time musical hero. ‘Penguin Eggs’ is definitely one of my Desert Island Discs! When he recorded with me on ‘The Lark’ I had to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming. Dick Gaughan’s another musical genius. Other people like Bob Fox I’ve been a fan of since I was a teenager. Bob sings in the stage play ‘War Horse’, so he had to get up to Yorkshire, record with us, then get back down for the theatre show in London that same night. He made it – just!” One surprise for some may be the appearance of household name Paul Weller who kate duets with on ‘Sun Grazers’, a new song. “The folk police might argue,” she quips “but I think Paul Weller is one of the giants of English folk music in its purest sense. He came to see my show a couple of times and we got on great. He was one of the first people I thought of when I was working out who I wanted to be on this new record. His singing on ‘Sun Grazers’ is out of this world.” Kate also goes transatlantic on this release and features the likes of Sarah Jarosz and Chris Thile. Something she has the wonder of internet technology to thank for: “The internet is an amazing thing, int it! Sarah and Chris are incredible talents who both brought a little bit of their magic to bear on my songs, but yes they did their bits over there and we did our bits here and with a bit of jiggery pokery we put it all together with some sticky back plastic and I don’t think you can see the joins! Funnily enough Sarah is coming over next week to play with us in Sheffield and London and on a show we’re doing for Radio 2, so really looking forward to that.” Kate makes it very clear that the whole experience of making the ’20′ was a unique one, one that she will no doubt treasure for a long time. “The guests here are all people whose music has inspired me over the years, so it’s been an incredible adventure making this album. Every day I came home smiling. Most of them came to our home studio on the moors, but a few we did using the wonders of modern technology.” There are many standout moments on this release from her re-recording of the lamentable “Bitter Boy” with husband and artist ‘Damien O’Kane’ (read our interview with Damien here) to her duet with Jim Causely whose deep contrasting timbre sounds perfect on ‘I Courted a Sailor’. All of the tracks carry her treasured trademark sound and there are some lovely extra lifting moments from talented star musicians such as Mick McGoldrick on flute an Jerry Douglas on dobro. The contrast of Kate Rusby and Dick Gaughan is one I never though I’d hear, but they make beautiful work of ‘Jolly Plough Boys’ with the addition of colliery band making it a special track. Grimethorpe Colliery Band also make an appearance on ‘Underneath the Stars’, the results are quite magical and sublime. I mention to Kate the first time we saw her perform was not at a folk festival or gig but at the Big Chill festival in 2005 with our young son, our first true family festival. Her performance with full band was an enduring memory of that weekend, she had the whole crowd up and dancing by the end. “It’s a real honour to be able to create lasting memories for people. Family is very important to me. We are really lucky with the opportunities we have had and the life we have. I’m not an ambitious person. I’ve never had aspirations to do more or have more than we have. Maybe it’s because of where we’re from Yorkshire. There is a bit of guilt that other people in my family have been down the mine and done that work, so it seems amazing that we can do this for a living.” Kate proudly confirms that her kids are having a similar upbringing to her own…”Yes, my kids are having a very similar upbringing to mine, which I’m over the moon about. My parents always had musical instruments lying around the house, and I knew so many songs by the time I was 5 it was unreal. Now, Damien and Daisy and I have a game called Family Chord. We all find notes that sound nice together and Daisy loves it when they lock in. People think kids as young as her don’t understand music, but given the chance they just feel it.” Whilst this release is a mighty on that Island make very clear, Kate has continued to hold those core values of her childhood, stardom is not something this woman is going to let go to her head. “I never lose sight of the fact that it’s a gift to be able to do something I love and make a living from it. But my Yorkshire roots mean I keep my feet planted firmly on the ground. I know the price of a bottle of milk and the paparazzi aren’t there when I go to buy it and nor are they bothered! I do my own make-up, cut my own hair, and make the music I want to. Best of all, though, I’m still going strong after 20 years!” That indeed you are! Alex The Mouth Magazine October 2012 TO SUSTAIN A BLEMISHLESS UPWARD TRAJECTORY DURING A TWO DECADE CAREER IS QUITE AN ACHIEVEMENT – PARTICULARLY IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS. TO HAVE DONE SO FROM WITHIN A FAMILY RUN COTTAGE INDUSTRY, BASED AWAY FROM BRIGHT-LIGHTS HUBBUB AND WHILE PRODUCING SOMETHING OF A NICHE SOUND, IS WHOLLY REMARKABLE… Yorkshire-based folk musician Kate Rusby – sometimes described as “the Barnsley nightingale”, and known to have modestly referred to herself as “only a front for the family business” – has managed it. 1999′s SLEEPLESS, her second album, was nominated for a Mercury Prize, and she’s won four BBC Folk Awards from six nominations. She’s performed on Later With Jools Holland, headlined the prestigious Cambridge Folk Festival on several occasions, and her regular tours play to consistently sold-out houses. Each of her albums tends to graze the Top 50 before continuing to sell steadily, reputation spreading mostly by enthusiastic word of mouth. She’s received Honorary Doctorates from both Sheffield Hallam and Huddersfield Universities, and is a patron of Yorkshire. Despite occasionally stratospheric accolades and gradually burgeoning adoration, Rusby remains hard-working, sincere and distinctly down-to-earth. Very much “just get on with things”. Very much of her county. I know the price of a bottle of milk and the paparazzi aren’t there when I go to buy it – and nor are they bothered!”  she scoffs, when asked about fame. “I do my own make-up, cut my own hair, and make the music I want. Best of all, though, I’m still going strong.”  She adds that “steady away”  is her motto. Today sees the release of new CD “20″, an overview of that even-tempered two decades in professional music making. Last night she performed a celebratory concert at Sheffield City Hall – not so many miles from her native town – and, a few days ago, a show played in front of a small audience at central London’s BBC Broadcasting House was transmitted live on Radio 2. The Mouth Magazine was in attendance at both of these performances, and has been regularly spinning the new two disc set over the last few weeks. It’s a career-spanning Best Of collection with a difference, not dissimilar to Rusby’s 2002 album “10″, each of the tracks a retooling of something from the back catalogue. But, this time, the ace up her sleeve is that each recording features a special guest – from Paul Weller to Mary Chapin Carpenter to Stephen Fretwell, via Radiohead’s Philip Selway. “The guests are all people whose music has inspired me over the years,” she says, “so it’s been an incredible adventure making this album.” A rowdily partisan BBC Radio Theatre audience was treated to an intimate but slightly truncated show, topped and tailed by broadcasting big-gun Jo Whiley, whose presence perhaps illustrated Rusby’s crossover appeal. Opening with the bride’s wedding-morning excitement of THE ELFIN KNIGHT (“Down to the church, then away we’ll go to bed!”), the set featured well-chosen career highlights and here-and-there cameos from folk stalwart Eddi Reader, Union Station’s Ron Block on banjo, Grammy nominated bright young thing Sara Jarosz (whose mandolin playing on AWKWARD ANNIE was a joyfully astonishing revelation), plus Devon-based five-time BBC Folk Award nominee Jim Causley. A string quartet marshalled by Donald Grant meant a lusher sound, particularly during I COURTED A SAILOR, and the blend of harmony voices added further layers. Rounding up with WANDERING SOUL – featuring every member of the gig’s cast of thirteen on the tiny stage – Rusby, seemingly not an ounce of conceit about her, was clearly delighted to share some of the limelight with friends. There was time for an encore of THE WISHING WIFE, featuring a woman whose spell-cast desire for her malcontented husband to be turned into a companionable dog is granted (“a true story, it happened in Barnsley”), before Whiley signed Rusby off from the airwaves. Block, Causley, Jarosz and Grant’s quartet also showed up for a warmly engaging evening in Sheffield, as did Liam Kelly, whistle / flute player with Irish group Dervish – though the top-billing guest was undoubtedly folk legend Dick Gaughan, himself celebrating 40 years since his debut release. His unerring presence as elder statesman, duetting with Rusby on JOLLY PLOUGHBOYS, lent the evening a resonance even the trad-folk authenticity curmudgeons in the crowd could not dismiss. An expanded set included welcome outings for THE FAIREST OF ALL YARROW and THE OLD MAN, with rarely heard SHO HEEN given a gorgeous dusting down, but it was the newly styled “20″ versions which enthralled most, reaffirming the general notion that there is more inventive and more intricate musical interplay – something sparkier – going on in the band these days than ever before. Clearly Rusby’s husband, band leader and comedic foil Damien O’Kane’s fluid and sharp-spirited musical dexterity has been an enormous influence during the last four or five years, particularly over the making of “20″. Supervised by O’Kane while she was in the midst of pregnancy with their second child, the album is as much his masterpiece of intelligent arrangement and curation as it is Rusby’s love-letter to the music she reveres and a handy note of her two professional decades in it. Released on the family’s Pure Records, though for the first time with major label support coming through a specially resurrected Island Pink (home to Nick Drake’s FIVE LEAVES LEFT and LIEGE AND LIEF by Fairport Convention, whose legendary Richard Thompson also crops up here), ”20″ perfectly captures Rusby’s peculiar talent for translating traditional folk music for an audience which might otherwise be dismissively prejudiced, without compromising its integrity, while also gently moving the form forward. Tastefully recorded with a crisp clarity courtesy of engineer brother Joe – who has a wonderful knack of positioning his sister in the mix so that she sings right into your ear – on Rusby albums it’s as much to do with the inclusive quality of the playing as it is the strength of the songs or the warmth of the melodies. Exceptionally well-played acoustic guitars, banjos, violins, accordians and the like bob-and-weave around each other with genuine bonhomie and, crucially, without excessively elaborate or self-indulgent ornamentation. Rusby – that magnificent voice as untarnished and luminous as a newly forged bell – rings out across the top of the whole lot. So endearing has this straightforward recipe proved that Rusby was asked to cook up the soundtrack for light on its feet Britcom HEARTLANDS, which starred Michael Sheen, and Jennifer Saunders commisioned some songs for BBC TV comedy JAM AND JERUSALEM. An effervescent nod-and-a-wink cover version of The Kinks’ VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, itself a folk song of sorts, was used as the show’s theme, gained a fair amount of national radio play and perfectly illustrated how sense of humour has a distinct and important place (alongside the usual folk stalwarts of tragic death, mourning ghosts and unrequited love) in the Rusby canon. The opening track on “20″, sprightly AWKWARD ANNIE (originally from the 2008 album of the same name, though arranged differently here), plays like a sitcom, as do several of Rusby’s songs, and is far funnier to the ear than it might seem on paper – the tale of a young man driven to give a potential girlfriend what he presumes are ever more impressive presents (in typical land girl Rusby fashion, animals), only to find that she kills almost all of them – while THE GOODMAN (originally from 2003′s UNDERNEATH THE STARS) appears to be a love-triangle revolving around good sex and bad eyesight. Recurring lyrical metaphors or references on previous Rusby albums have often been sky-based. Perhaps it’s to do with an accessibility to picturesque wide open spaces where she lives, but the astronomical or the avian have featured time and again. SUN GRAZERS, the only previously unheard song on “20″, sees Paul Weller a few years off the back of his 22 DREAMS fascination with the pastoral, but clearly still relishing the opportunity to lend his reedy tones to a song calling for “a quiet life”. UNDERNEATH THE STARS (same, 2003) and banjo-driven PLANETS (AWKWARD ANNIE, 2008) feature the polished brass work of Grimethorpe Colliery Band and Sara Jarosz respectively, while THE MOCKING BIRD (MAKE THE LIGHT, 2010) has Nickel Creek’s Sara Watkins beautifully complementing Rusby’s mournful lead line. THE LARK (from THE GIRL WHO COULDN’T FLY, 2005) here features hugely respected folk figure Nic Jones. “It’s well documented that Nic is my all-time musical hero, and his 1980 album PENGUIN EGGS is one of my favourites” says Kate. The pair’s voices work extremely well together, suggesting huge mutual admiration and a natural respect for the material. Elsewhere on “20″, an impromptu snatch of BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP from three-year-old daughter Daisy is a poignant reminder that Rusby herself had something of an unconventional childhood as part of a folk-scene family. “Yes, my kids are having a very similar upbringing to mine, which I’m over the moon about.”  says Kate. “Damien and Daisy and I have a game called Family Chord,”  she goes on, “where we all find notes that sound nice together. Daisy loves it when they lock-in. People think kids as young as her don’t understand music, but given the chance they just feel it.” In a playful moment that had potential to have been rather mawkish had it cropped up during a gig by any number of disingenuous others – and so which made absolute sense in the context of this unpretentious celebration and Rusby’s deeply grounded family roots – Daisy herself toddled out onto the stage early on at Sheffield, and charmed everyone in the room with a brief and shy burst of her signature song, before skipping off. Rusby and O’Kane looked proudly on, and it seems a fair bet that the couple’s second daughter – Phoebe, born in April this year – will also fit in fine with the musical atmosphere at home. Through default she’s had some involvement already: “I had a C-section with Phoebe, but we had to keep going because we had a deadline to meet with this album,”  laughs Kate, “so I was sat in hospital with my laptop, e-mailing musicians and singers about recording dates and lyrics.“Well, you just get on with these things if you have to, don’t you?”   Independent 'I' October 2012 20 Contains many tracks culled from all corners of Kate Rusby's career, performed as duets with esteemed friends and peers.  "Sun Grazers" features Paul Weller, while on "Who Will Sing Me Lullabies" Richard Thompson's restrained guitar work is accompanied by subtle percussion from Radiohead's Phil Selway.  But the best tracks turn on even subtler twists of inflection; "Unquiet Grave" and "The Lark" are rendered poignant by the combination of Rusby's voice with those of Aofe O'Donovan and Nic Jones respectively. Andy Gill   The Sun October 2012 If Van Morrison is the Belfast Cowboy, I suppose it's OK to call Kate Rusby the Barnsley Nightingale.  After all, the Yorkshire lass possesses one of the purest, sweetest voices in folk music. To mark 20 years of making music, Kate re-imagined her best-loved songs with a stellar cast of musicians including Richard Thompson, Eddi Reader, Radiohead's Philip Selway and the Grimethrope Colliery Band.  The most jaw-dropping moment is a stunning duet with Paul Weller on new song Sun Grazers and it's great to hear folk hero Nic Jones on The Lark, 30 years on from his near-fatal car crash SC   The Congleton Chronicle - October 2012 It’s maybe not too surprising that, as the largest county in England, Yorkshire has produced its fair share of talent. There are the giants of the sporting arena such as cricketers Trueman and Boycott and Olympic athlete Jess Ennis, together with a fair smattering of names in the field of entertainment and the arts (Sean Bean anyone?). The south Yorkshire burr has produced a couple of talents whose voices are their trademark. Sheffield lad Richard Hawley — “the Sheffield Sinatra” — is all of a sudden high profile with his 2012 Mercury Prize-nominated Standing At The Sky’s Edge, while not to be outdone “the Barnsley Nightingale” Kate Rusby (Mercury nominated way back in 1999) has a major release this autumn. Touring around this time last year Rusby, played a show at the Burnley Mechanics and between songs casually remarked that she’d been “doing this” for nearly 20 years. Hard to believe that another 10 years have passed since the 10 album which in 2003 celebrated her 10 (spot the pattern?) year recording anniversary. Plans must have been afoot back then to make 2012 a special year in which to celebrate with something appropriate; plans which have resulted in a career defining retrospective and nationwide tour. Anyone expecting one of your more typical career retrospectives though had better think again. Sure, the double CD (great value for money) contains a selection from her nine-album catalogue of work. Plus it contains the almost obligatory “new song for this compilation” so there’s the bonus for the hardcore fans of hearing something they won’t have heard before. However — and this is the biggie — these are not just repackaged versions of songs from the back catalogue that Rusby devotees will already have in their collection. These 20 songs (yes 20 for the 20th anniversary...) are all new recordings of Rusby’s favourite songs, each track featuring some type of collaboration with an impressive range of rock, folk and bluegrass artists. Quintessential English singer songwriter Richard Thompson is here, as is American singer Mary Chapin-Carpenter and folk legends Nic Jones and Dick Gaughan. So it’s a great intro to Rusby for anyone who’s not been touched yet by her music, and much to re-discover for longer term supporters. It’s quite difficult knowing where to start with such an embarrassment of riches. Maybe with the new song in the set, Sun Grazers, which features perhaps the most unexpected collaborator, The Modfather himself, Paul Weller, singing a verse and in duet with Rusby. Maybe with the tracks that are embellished by some brass instrumentation that seems to lend itself so well to the Rusby songs and add a little extra Yorkshire-ness —Jolly Plough Boys and possibly one of her best songs Underneath The Stars, the original track featuring a brass quintet, but this time graced by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band. Maybe even with the final song of the first CD, Bitter Boy, which is stripped back to vocal and piano with occasional strings augmenting the sound. Wherever you listen though, it’s obvious from the off that this is a bit different. Michael Ainscoe   Daily Mail October 2012 Paul Weller, Eddi Reader as well as Radiohead's Philip Selway are among the guests helping Barnsley folk singer and guitarist Kate Rusby celebrate two decades in music.  This double CD finds the crystal-voiced Yorkshire lass revamping the songs from her nine solo albums, mixing originals with traditionals such as Jolly Plough Boys.  A career retrospective, it is also a superb introduction to a giant of her genre. Fatea Magazine October 2012 This is a rather special album. It celebrates Kate Rusby's first twenty years of making music.However, it is not just a compilation album,it is much more than that. It would have been easy enough to simply put out a "Best Of" album but Kate has not chosen the easy option but a far more satisfying one. What Kate and husband Damien O'Kane have done is to have selected nineteen of Kate's favourite songs [plus one new song] and recorded them with with some very special guests from the worlds of British folk [ Nic Jones, Dick Gaughan, Richard Thompson, Bob Fox, Dave Burland and Jim Causley], rock [ Paul Weller, Eddi Reader, Paul Brady, Philip Selway [Radiohead] and Stephen Fretwell] and Americana [Jerry Douglas, Sarah Jarosz, Sarah Watkins, Chris Thile and Mary Chapin Carpenter]. As if this was not enough, Island Records have decided to use this album to resurrect their famous, much-loved " Island Pink" label, which was originally home to some truly classic albums by the likes of Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, John Martyn and Fotheringay, not to mention Traffic, Jethro Tull,Free, King Crimson and Cat Stevens and so on. It is somehow fitting that this label should be revived for Kate's album as she has done much to bring authentic folk music to a wider audience, much in the same way that the likes of Fairport and their Island label mates did in the late 1960's. The Guardian accurately described Kate as a "Superstar of the British acoustic scene ". This album is also a canny move from a marketing point of view as even die-hard Kate Rusby fans [myself included] will want to buy it because the new versions of the old songs are substantially different from the originals. Before hearing the album, I was fearful that the superstar guests would somehow overshadow Kate's performances but I am happy to report that this is not the case. In the words of the late Kenny Everett "Everything is done in the best possible taste". There are too many highlights to mention but my personal favourites include a gorgeous "Sho Heen" with Eddi Reader and the incomparable Jerry Douglas on dobro; " Annan Waters " which features one of my favourite singers, Bob Fox and "The Lark", on which it is really great to hear the wonderful Nic Jones singing harmony with Kate. The one new song, "Sun Grazers", features Paul Weller who duets beautifully with Kate - it's hard to believe it's the same person who sang "In The City" with The Jam! A particularly poignant moment comes with "Bitter Boy", a song that Kate wrote for her late Uncle Stan who passed away unexpectedly, just two weeks after his mother died. In conclusion, this album comes highly recommended. If you are new to Kate's music, this is an excellent place to start. If you are already a fan, you will love these new versions. Peter Cowley   Zani On Line Review October 2012 Marking the 20th anniversary of her music-making career by revisiting some of the songs that have signposted her travels from folk club upstart to one of Britain's most distinctive and much-loved voices. Thus, standouts from her back pages such as Awkward Annie (with Nickel Creek's prog-bluegrass boy wonder Chris Thile) and Underneath the Stars (with the devoutly old school Grimethorpe Colliery Band) are refreshed by reinterpretation. Mary Chapin Carpenter makes her presence warmly felt on the festive beauty of Home, as the stalwart Eddi Reader is joined by the equally staunch Dick Gaughan on the landmark Wandering Soul. Gaughan, who also crops up on the trad-folk Jolly Plough Boys, adds a determinedly male presence to the record that makes perfect sense alongside Paul Weller's contribution to the album's new song, Sun Grazers, a superb slice of impassioned soul-folk with a finely honed pop hook that warrants the mainstream action and investigation The Modfather's involvement is likely to attract. Richard Thompson is joined by Radiohead drummer Phil Selway to add a deft touch to Who Will Sing Like Me?, as do Paul Brady to the beautiful setting of All God's Angels and Stephen Fretwell to Wild Goose. All of which adds up to a beautifully judged collection with enough entry points to both broaden Kate Rusby's appeal to the new initiates and confirm her popularity as traditional music's beacon holder in an age of easy charms. Nick Churchill   UNCUT November 2012 Yorkshire's Kate Rusby celebrates two decades in the trade on 20 (Pure 7/10) with new versions of old favourites, many of them duets with luminaries like Eddi Reader, Nic Jones and Chris Thile.  Rusby's fragile, wistful vocals can grow precious, but her guests add robustness, Paul Weller's earthy presence on the new "sun Grazers" being a case in point.  It works as both resume and introduction. Neil Spencer   SHEFFIELD TELEGRAPH 18 October 2012 She is renowned for her magical singing, her chirpy personality and the way she has introduced folk music to a wider audience - and now Kate Rusby is celebrating 20 years in the music business. It's an anniversary being consolidated with an album called '20' and a tour that starts at Sheffield City Hall on Sunday. Firmly rooted in the Barnsley area, where she continues to live, Kate regards the Sheffield concert as home territory to an extent that an impressive list of names from the acoustic music world is due to join her on stage. In addition to her band, the line-up for the City Hall is due to include Sarah Jarosz, Ron Block (from Alison Krauss's band), Dick Gaughan and  Jim Causley. They appear on the album of new recordings and re-interpretations from her back catalogue, which is released on Monday.  Such is the South Yorkshire singer's standing, that other musicians and singers appearing on the album include Paul Weller, Richard Thompson, Nic Jones, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Eddi Reader. "I am really excited about playing at the City Hall in Sheffield as this is one of only two special 20 year anniversary concerts we are doing this year" says Kate. "The other is in London.  We  HAD to do an anniversary gig in my beloved Yorkshire, of course, and the City Hall is the perfect place.  The audience is always fantastic, the hall is so beautiful and a delight to sing in.  I can't wait". Kate is regarded as one of a new generation of singers and musicians who breathed life into the folk tradition. Her success, and that of Barnsley based Pure Records, has been underpinned by her family.  "I have a good team behind me, made up mainly from my immediate family.  There's no way I could do it all on my own!  Myself and my Dad originally set up Pure Records.  After a while my Mum came on board to take over the accounts then about 12 years ago my Sister Emma had her second child and left the graphic design company she worked for and came to work for us, my Brother Joe has been my Sound Engineer for about 15 years now, so they are all involved somehow". It explains how Kate has kept her feet on the ground, despite the widespread popular and critical acclaim, including being one of the few folk singers to have been nominated for a Mercury Prize. Why would you want to be anything but nice to people?" she asks.  "I really don't understand musicians who think the world should bow to them, it really is just silly". She points to the saying; 'Be kind to everyone going up, 'cos you'll meet them all coming back down'.  "It's very true". Kate, married to musician Damien O'Kane, who is in the band, and with two children, can't quite believe the 20 year landmark, although she was immersed in folk music from a very early age through her parents. "It does make me feel rather old.  The music industry is so very fickle and unfaithful that many musicians don's enjoy longevity, but we seem to have been lucky that way. "At ten years I was thinking 'woo hoo', this is great to have been going for this long, how lucky are we!  So 20 years is just fabulous.  And, yes, I am immensely proud of the way we have gone about it all.  Way back when we took a gamble and thought let's have a go at setting up our own record company and see if we can keep ownership of my work, because that's what it's all about really". "Musicians in the mainstream world don't own their own music, they have to sign it away or co-own it with the record company and they then get to control what music you play and write, and when you should play and write it, and who you should play and write with.  These are all choices that I have been free to make over the years just due to the fact that we have our own record company so we are our own bosses. "Over the years many major labels have come a-wooing but after speaking to them for a while it always became clear that they just wanted me to change the music I played for something 'more commercial', but I always thought that would just make me like everyone else, and surely being a bit different was a good thing". "And I love playing the music we do so why would I want to play something else, of another person's choosing.  If we kept control then we could make our own decisions.  We are very lucky to be in that situation, very lucky indeed". Twenty years on, there are indications that the Rusby name will be heard in folk music circles for many years. Phoebe was born about three quarters of the way through making the new album - "so she just had to put up with coming in the studio to finish off the record". "Daisy, our three year old is already singing constantly.  She makes up songs for most of the day, and dances about singing them, as little Phoebe just watches her - thinking "Ooh one day I will be able to do that if I want". Peter Kay   FROOTS September 2012 The British folk world was a very different beast when Kate Rusby took her first tentative career steps two decades ago.  The fact that someone of her youth was singing traditional songs was itself a novelty and the melting tenderness of her voice was relatory enough to achieve froots album of the year when she made her first LP with Kathryne Roberts in 1995.  The subsequent re-birth of Brit folk has much to do with Kate's gentle charm and tasteful sincerity that not only didn't frighten the grown-ups but made her accessible to a broader audience in a way the genre hadn't enjoyed for many years. The scene has moved on apace since then, of course, and with familiarity breeding contempt and new generations of exciting young things emerging in her wake to divert things towards interesting alleyways, there's a strand of thought that regards Kate now as some sort of folk MOR irrelevance who's never stepped beyond her comfort zone. That's harsh for, as well as remaining a beautiful singer, she has steadily blossomed as acredible songwriter - Who Will Sing Me Lullabies, her affecting tribute to Davy Steeele, may be the only song of hers widely covered so far, but there are a couple of others here (Bitter Boy and Mocking Bird, for example), on which she shows she can bite pretty effectively too.  The touching sentiment and engaging chorus of Underneath the Stars, too is the work of a serious song crafter. And so we find ourselves celebrating 20 Rusby years with a 20-track double CD, which works both as a faithful retrospective and ingenious new spin as Kate revisits old hits with a shrewd selection of guest artists.  They're not the usual suspects, either.  Paul Weller duets with her on the album's one brand new track, the evocative Sun Grazers - and he hasn't sounded this good in years - while Richard Thompson sings and plays electric guitar on the aforementioned Who Will Sing Me Lullabies alongside Radiohead's Phil Selway on percussion.  She also fulfils what you fondly imagine to be a personal dream by singing with some of the personal heroes who inspired and shaped her in those early days - Nic Jones offering impressive lilting harmonies on The Lark, Dick Gaughan adding grit and intensity to Jolly Plough Boys, Paul Brady less convincingly playing the role of her adversary on All God's Angels and her Barnsley neighbour Dave Burland adding his trademark relaxed warmth to Elfin Knight.  Jerry Douglas, Sarah Jarosz, Chris Thile, Stephen Fretwell, Eddi Reader, Bob Fox, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Declan O'Rourle, Sara Watkins, Jim Causley, Aofe O'Donovan and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band are also co-opted to add additional strength and variety. The one disparity is that the impressive guest list may not have best been utilised.  As good a singer as Bob Fox is, the emotional vote would have been for Nic Jones to sing with her on Annan Waters, a song so closely associated with him. Burland would surely have been a more suitable partner than Brady on All God's Angels, Stephen Fretwell hardly lends Wild Goose the sort of impact the song deserves and the character of some of the others is blunted in the mix. that all said it's both an accomplished statement and a worthy celebration.  Kate has always surrounded herself with outstanding musicians and, with Jerry Douglas threatening to steal the whole album, this is a master-class in tastefulness and immaculacy. So yeah, happy 20th anniversary, Kate ...... still not crazy after all these years. Colin Irwin
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