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Kate Rusby


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Traditional and neo-traditional folk

Status:

Most recent release, The Frost Is All Over (seasonal, 2015); most recent release of non-seasonal material, Ghost (2014)

See also:

Kate Rusby's site

Wikipedia's entry on Kate Rusby

Kate Rusby has also appeared with Intuition, The Equation, as a duo with Kathryn Roberts (Ectophiles' Guide entry here), and with The Poozies

Comparisons:

Bill Jones, Jackie Oates, Karine Polwart

Covers/own material:

Traditional, covers of neo-traditional songs, and more and more recently, her own compositions

General comments:

Kate Rusby has a lovely, raspy voice and clear delivery. Though I was initially very enthusiastic about her work, her song interpretations haven't worn that well over time for me—to me, her songs all sound the same, whether they're purely love songs or violent murder ballads. I can't tell if they're meant to be sweet or tragic or violent from the way she sings the songs or frequently from the arrangements. I do still enjoy her voice and her take on songs I've heard elsewhere. She's not as powerful as Sandy Denny or edgy as The Unthanks or raw as Eliza Carthy, but certainly her renditions are more lively than the smooth uninteresting prettiness that dominates most of this genre. Recommended for fans of traditional folk. (Neile)

Comments about live performance:

I saw Kate Rusby at a small venue in Ann Arbor last thursday and it was a great show. She played for over 2-1/2 hours with only a short break in the middle. She and her two bandmembers (one her husband, John) are very funny, telling little stories and jokes between songs. Anyone who likes English trad-folk should try to see them. (4/02, cdavis@tir.com)

Recommended first album:

Any—they're quite similar

Recordings:


Hourglass

Release info:

1998—Compass Records—7 4255-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of traditional folk

Group members:

Kate Rusby—vocals, piano, guitar

Guest artists:

Ian Carr—guitar (1, 5, 7, 10)
Andy Cutting—diatonic accordion
Donald May—perucssion
Conrad Ivitsky—double bass
Alison Kinnaird—cello
John McCusker—fiddles
Michael McGoldrick—flute, whistles
Tony McManus—guitar (2, 8)
Alan Reid—backing vocals (4)
eric Rigler—uillean pipes
Davy Steele—backing vocals (3, 11)

Produced by:

John McCusker

Comments:

It's quite nice—a very pretty collection of mostly traditional songs. I do really liked her version of "I am Stretched on Your Grave." Rusby has a rich, sweet voice, and the traditional songs are simply, acoustically done but sound contemporary (because of the style of her guitar playing?). I like them because they're not New Age-y or bland, which are my major complaints with so many contemporary recordings of traditional songs. (Neile)

I've been listening to Hourglass, and it is perhaps my favorite new (to me) CD this year. (neal)


Sleepless

Release info:

1998—Compass Records

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of traditional folk

Group members:

Kate Rusby—guitar, piano, vocals

Guest artists:

Dave Burland—vocals
Ian Carr—guitar
Andy Cutting—diatonic accordion
Francis MacDonald—percussion
John McCusker—banjo, fiddle
Michael McGoldrick—flute, whistling
Tim O'Brien—mandolin, vocals
Darrell Scott—guitar
Andy Seward—double bass
Roger Wilson—guitar, vocals

Produced by:

John McCusker

Comments:

yum. Tasty. Must have.
     She's got that high, lilting voice I immediately associate with Irish and English traditional music, and she does a nice mixture of trad tunes, her own compositions, and covers (her cover of Iris DeMent's "Our Town" was simply scrumptious). The arrangements are your basic contemporary trad arrangements, with acoustic guitar and flute and that sort of thing, which complements her voice perfectly. (meth@smoe.org)

I was not disappointed, and I agree with Meredith, "Our Town" (which I've always dreamed was about Austin) really shines on this release. The format also works very well for listening. The first four songs are all traditional, and trad. arrangements: "The Cobbler's Daughter," "I Wonder What Is Keeping My True Love This Night," "The Fairest of all Yarrow," & "The Unquiet Grave." Her talents are tremendously accomplished, without ever seeming arrogant. You can tell immediately that she has a deep respect for English musical traditions, despite her young age. The next three tracks are effortless, and they seem every bit as traditional, and yet they are original compositions. "Sho Heen" a sad lullaby, "Sweet Bride" and a favorite of mine, "All God's Angels", with guest vocals by Tim O'Brien. Next follows the traditional, "The Wild Goose" with guest vocals by Dave Burland, and a upbeat version of "The Duke and the Tinker". After "Our Town" my CD ends with an original song, "The Sleepless Sailor" which fits into the traditions of the other songs perfectly. (mickey@austin.rr.com)

I'm really surprised by the acclaim given to this album. One track, 'The Wild Goose' suits her voice wonderfully, but she sadly falls down on almost everything else. She simply doesn't have the range or control of her voice to carry the songs. Her version of 'Our Town' is embarrassing.
     I MUCH prefer the album she did with Kathryn Roberts, where Kathryn's more accomplished vocals helped a great deal. (crsm@oroboros.demon.co.uk)

Kate Rusby is no Sandy Denny, but she's good, and I like hearing her takes on traditional ballads. She's got a lovely voice and is good at this sort of thing. (Neile)


Little Lights

Release info:

2001—Compass—7 4310 2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of traditional folk

Group members:

Kate Rusby—vocals, guitar (7, 9)

Guest artists:

Ian Carr—guitar (1, 2, 4, 6)
John Doyle—guitar (3, 5, 7, 10)
Darrell Scott—guitar (9), harmony vocals (9)
Ewan Vernal—double bass (1, 2, 4, 6)
Danny Thompson—double bass (9)
Andy Cuttin—diatonic accordion
Mairtin O'Connor-accordion (9)
Michael McGoldrick—whistles, tenor banjo
John McCuster—fidde, cittern, whistle (10),BR> Malcom Stittt—bouzouki
Tim O'Brien—madolin, harmony vocals (9)
Alison Brown—five-string banjo (4)
Kieth Angel—percussion, marimba
Eddit Reader—harmony vocals (3, 6, 10)
John Jones (harmony vocals (6)
Alan Morrison—cornet
Richard Marshall-Cornet
Sandy Smith—Eb horn
Nick Hudson—trombone
Shaun Crowther—tuba

Produced by:

John McCucker

Comments:

One of my top 10 of 2001. ( mcurry@io.com)

a very nice album, maybe her best to date. (cdavis@tir.com)


The Girl Who Couldn't Fly

Release info:

2005—Compass—7 4420 2

Availability:

Wide in U.S. and U.K.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans of traditional folk

Group members:

Kate Rusby—guitar, vocals

Guest artists:

Roddy Woomble—vocals on 3 tracks
Kellie While—vocals on 1 track
Ian Carr—guitar on 7 tracks, tenor guitar on 2 tracks
John McCusker—tenor guitar on 3 tracks, guitar on 1 track, cittern on 3 tracks, fiddle/viola on 4 tracks, whistle on 2 tracks, piano on 1 track
Andy Cutting—accordion on 6 tracks
Ewen Vernal—double bass on 7 tracks
Andy Seward—double bacc on 5 tracks
John Doyle—tenor guitar on 1 track
Kris Drever—tenor guitar on 2 tracks
Michael McGolderick—flute and whistle on 4 tracks
Neil Yates—trumpet and horn on 4 tracks
Jim Fletcher—eupohonium on 3 tracks
Matt Broadbent—tuba on 3 tracks
Keith Angel—snare drum on 1 track
Greg Lawson—violin
Carole Howat—violin
Steve King—viola
Kevin McCrae—cello

Produced by:

John McCusker

Comments:

More of the same. If you like her previous albums, you'll like this one, too. (Neile)

The Frost Is All Over

Release info:

2015—Pure Records (Yorkshire)—PRCD40

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Kate Rusby—vocals and bell

Guest artists:

Damien O'Kane—guitar, tenor guitar, banjo
Duncan Lyall—double bass
Nick Cooke—diatonic accordion
Aaron Jones—bouzouki
Steven Iveson—electric guitar
Cormac Byrne—drum kit and percussion
Richard Evans—flugelhorn
Gary Wyatt—cornet
Sam Pearce—French horn
Michael Altree—euphonium
Michael Levis—tuba
Andrew Duncan—brass arrangements

Produced by:

Damien O'Kane and Kate Rusby

Comments:

This is one of the loveliest Christmas albums in my collection. The vocals, the instrumentation, the song selection (original and less familiar songs and the reimagining of more familiar ones through new arrangements)... it all adds up to something really beautiful and special. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Further info:

The DVDs Live From Leeds (2004) and Live at Christmas (2013) are also available.


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2017-01-22 17:13:52.
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