on 10 February 2002
I first encountered Kate Rusby in an interview in a guitar magazine, and, as she is shortly to visit Morecambe, thought I would purchase a CD before purchasing a concert ticket. Reviews on this Amazon site made choosing difficult, but in the end I opted for this one.
As other reviewers have commented, Kate Rusby's voice is delightful, with a lovely natural sound. Especially winsome is her refusal to mask her Yorkshire accent, and as a fellow notherner I like to hear "mother" pronounced as "mutha", "love" as "luv" and so on! And the voicing is lovely too; listen to the magical voicing of the word "rode" in the lines "..she rode through fields of barley, and she rode through fields of corn.." on "Rose in April."
In the interview I read, Kate Rusby said she considers herself a singer rather than a songwriter. I agree with another reviewer who thinks "Hourglass" is the best song on the album. Besides THAT haunting voice, there is some lovely imagery of "Old Man Time" whose hourglass for Kate seems to have less sand than most people's, causing Kate to wonder if God didn't give him all her sand, or whether hers has been shared with someone else, or washed away, and to wonder if she brought some in a sack, perhaps he'd give some back. Marvellous!
The CD is a mixture of originals, traditional, and traditional lyrics adapted or put to original tunes. The arrangements are very tastefully done, too, with all of the (variety of) instruments adding to the sound without encroaching on it. In the interview I read, Kate expressed a preference for sad songs - plenty of those here! I haven't exposed myself to "traditional" folk music for quite a while, this could now change. I can't wait for the concert, and intend purchasing her other CDs.
on 12 March 2001
Kate Rusby has a honey rich mezzo voice, and she has gathered around her a group of subtle, sympathetic and tasteful musicians. She has here recorded a set of songs and tunes which combine the cream of the folk tradition with her own lyrical compositions. Those are the bald facts - and they they do not begin to describe what an absolute joy this CD is. I have already saved a place in my choice for Desert Island Discs (well, we can all dream) for the heartbreakingly beautiful Annan Waters, which features some delicately underplayed piano from Kate, and I have been forced to reconsider my view that nothing more could be done with the shanty Bold Riley. But the list of gems does not end there; her voice descends to a sensual contralto for the seriously mellifluous As I Roved Out, and she adopts a lighter mood for the jazzy waltz Radio Sweethearts. I could go on; there is not a weak track on this CD. Buy it; it will move you.
on 1 July 2005
This was my first exposure to the fantastic talents of Kate Rusby and although I have expanded my collection of her albums to include later material, this, her first album, will always have a special place in my CD collection.
As others have commented her, Kate's voice is her finest tool and she uses it with accomplished skill. Neither perfect in pitch or tone and heavily northerly accented you would expect such a combination not to work, but it is this very "honesty" about her voice which works so very well, whether singing in mournful lower tones or stretching to the limits of the higher ranges it carries the listener on an emotional roller coaster ride.
The songs themselves are a wonderful mix of traditional folk, whether that is joyful tunes about working life (Jolly Ploughboys) or fireside tales (Sir Eglamore) or darker mournful ballads about lost love (Annan Waters) or even forbidden love (Rose in April). But there's also place for tales of more modern love (Radio Sweethearts) or a contemporary view of the passage of time (Old Man Time)
The musical accompaniment is wonderfully understated, after all it's Kate's voice that is the star, but when the soaring fiddle work powers in, (Annan Waters for example) it is simply sublime.
Album favourites for me include the dark humour of Old Man Time, the clap-along saga of Drowned Lovers and the honest workmen's anthem of Jolly Ploughmen.
If you haven't discovered Kate yet, or have only hear her more recent output make this your next "must have" CD purchase!
on 21 April 2000
Kate's first album is her at her best, and I cannot stop listening to it, particularly Old Man Time which has to be her best ever song. I would tell everyone to buy this album if I could. Even people who hate folk cannot fail to fall under the spell of Kate's clear voice.
on 9 February 2000
As of 9.2.2000 she is the Radio Two Folk Artist of the year and was also awarded R2 Folk Album of the Year for her second album "Sleepless". But this is where it all started - a debut album of grace, innocence and purity. Ackowledging her sources she cites among others Nic Jones and Jim McGeehan as influences, but nothing is derivative - it all comes up newly-minted and fresh. Try "Drowned lovers" or "Bold Riley" and you'll see what I mean. Her voice is like a Sistine chapel angel, but with a touch of Barnsley to earth it in the real world. When she sings of doomed love you weep for the loss of the lovers (Annan Waters) and when she sings of the dignity of labour you believe in arcadia (Jolly Ploughboys). Mercury-nominated last year and finally rewarded at the R2 ceremony this year, she is as fresh as paint and as graceful as Markova. Buy, but invest in a hankie as well and weep at the artless gamin's tenderness.
on 30 September 2007
This had to be one of the all time best Kate Rusby albums. It has fantastic songs and a lot of them are either fast and memorable, or slower but at the same time catchy. All the tracks on this CD are actually very well done, but the best ones have to be:
Sir Eglamore - it's a song about a dragon. Who couldn't love that? It had a really good sort of repeating line as well, that keeps the tune going and adds to the overall flavour of the track.
Radio Sweethearts - A sweet old tune about an old couple waltzing to a radio. You would think that it would be slow and set to a waltz it self, but it goes at a medium pace and has a veyr nice little melody to it!
I Am Stretched On Your Grave - Based on an old poem, this is by far the best song on the album. It's sung incredibly well, and has a deathly drum beat set to it from the second verse. There's no messing around, it's straight to the point and it leaves you singing all day. Fantastic!
There are meany otehr high quality tracks on this album, and it really is one that you should have no doubt about adding to your collection!
on 22 September 2011
No wonder this little lass is at the top of the tree in folk (well in my opinion she could be the top in any genre!) She has talent far beyond anything I have heard from these shores in years, but I am just a little glad she is not in mainstream music as I like to think of her as a little hidden gem that only true fans know of!
god bless you Kate (oh and her little family)
on 13 November 2000
Kate is an incredible artist. Anyone who hasn't already heard it should also listen to her album with Kathryn Roberts (1995, Pure Records) as well as Sleepless, which is also amazingly good. Her live performances are fantastic and she comes across as being so pleasant and down to earth that you can't help liking her.
on 6 December 2012
I had not heard Ms Rusby's voice until recently. It is wonderfully distinctive but for me it is like honey, a spoonful is good but not the jar. So I tend to mix up a play list on random play and every time she sings I smile, which says it all. Great voice. Recommended.
on 5 May 2013
For those die hard fans of Kate Rusby this is a delightful album wistful, amusing and lyrical and for those who are not yet fans - this is an album to savour and enjoy. With a soaring yet subtle voice Kate has reinvented a genre of the folk scene with nostaglic songs and other that are contemporary. She does this effortlessly - easing into the lyrics. There is no one stand out track rather the whole collection stands by itself...for some people ( like me) Kate grows on you and suddenly its like how could you have not been listening to her.
Go enjoy Kate and another excellent album