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4.6 out of 5 stars
Sweet Bells
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81 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2008
May I begin by confirming that I am from Lancashire.

In much the same way as she has defied the Folk Police to make 'folk music' appeal to a wide audience without compromise, Kate Rusby's "Sweet Bells" will even beguile those who "don't do Christmas." I first enjoyed the songs on this thoroughly inspired seasonal collection during Rusby's "Christmas Kate" tour and have been eagerly awaiting their release on CD ever since.

Whilst I'll concede that I might receive concerned and sympathetic looks from others if discovered savouring the delights of "Hark The Herald", "Sweet Bells" and "Here We Come A-Wassailing" in mid-July, I don't care. I'll just draw the curtains, sit next to the fridge and turn up the volume to drown out the buzzing bees.

Such is the beauty of Rusby's voice and the originality of the instrumentation - provided by diehards Andy Cutting, Ian Carr and Andy Seward amongst others including two brass bands (from Yorkshire naturally!) - that the eleven songs on "Sweet Bells" will continue to delight long after the last Christmas tree has been dismantled and resolutions forgotten.

In fact, several songs have their roots very much in the winter but convey sentiments which aren't exclusively the preserve of the festive season. "Serving Girl's Holiday", hauntingly sung to the pure accompaniment of Andy Cutting's diatonic accordion is a good example. Likewise the exquisite "Miner's Dream Of Home" and the charming "Poor Old Horse".

Unusually, there are no entirely Rusby originals here. However, as always she makes each and every song her own; living and breathing every word, hitting each note perfectly as on "Candlemas Eve".

The Best Christmas Album ... Ever? Oh yes, by a Yorkshire mile. And the best version of "The Holly & The Ivy" you'll ever hear.

Breathtaking ... as always. Thanks Kate.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2008
A new Kate Rusby Album is an event at the best of times, but in the dark days of December, something to warm you as you struggle through the snow...a collection of South Yorkshire Carols, that bring to CD the feel of sitting in the village pub as the carols ring out. What about a wonderful version of "The Holly and The Ivy" or "Hark the Herald" ? Or a couple of moving social conscience songs like "The Miner's Dream of Home" or "Serving Girl's Holiday" ? Or something to push you through to spring, like "Candlemas Eve" ? Personally I could listen to Kate singing the Cawthorne Phone Book, but the new album showcases her voice beautifully against the Grimethorpe Colliery Band and her folk staples. I for one will be listening well into the cold days of February..
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2011
This is the first album we've had from Kate Rusby. Played it at church during a service and it went down really well, a brilliant alternative to conventional carols. Looking forward to hearing some of her other albums.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 15 December 2008
I saw Kate Rusby perform most of the songs from this album last night at Blackheath Concert Halls in London. She seemed a bit nervous in the first half of the concert, as well she might given that she was, in effect, performing a new album in its entirety for the first time. She needn't have worried, as this record is just as adorable as all the others: Kate's beautiful soaring voice, gorgeous arrangements, genuine respect for the material, both old and new. Christmas albums can always be a little risky, as the themes can become repetitive after a while, and I can't honestly say that this album will replace classics like "Awkward Annie" and "Sleepless" in my affections. But as Christmas albums go, this is as good as it gets. Kate's lovely voice and music continue to cheer me through the dark days of the credit crisis, with its gloomy newspaper headlines.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2009
I've been repeatedly listening to this cd in the run up to Christmas this year. A short collection of well-worked and beautifully delivered festive folk songs, presenting fresh faces for a number of well-known carols, and adding others new to me. They all evoke essential Christmas sentiment and nostalgia, but steer refreshingly clear of the cliches which abound in festive music. Now let's see if I can wait until next Christmas before I pop this CD in and press the 'repeat' button......
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 18 December 2008
I first saw Kate performing her Yorkshire Christmas carols on tour last December, and it was the most uplifting evening I'd had in a long time. No matter whether you've had your decorations up since November, or are dreading the Christmas season with a dose of good "bah humbug", the beautiful joyful musicality of the album can't fail to leave you feeling cheerful and festive. The use of the brass band against Kate's inquisite voice really helps give a rich sound to the fantastic back drop of her familiar band. Its difficult to pick a favourite, but I love Candlemass Eve and I defy anyone not to be humming the title track well into the new year! This has got to be a "must have" Christmas album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 January 2011
I saw Kate on songs of praise singing Christmas bells,and thought what a fantastic voice i must hear more. I read the reviews and made my purchase at the end of December, I am still listening to the album now end of January,fantastic well done Kate.

Although I am originaly from Lancashire I now live in Scotland,it was great to hear the lovely Yorkshire twang,I must say I felt a little home sick.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2010
I bought this CD in the run-up to Christmas and what an absolute delight it is. In fact I found it so wonderful, that I actually managed to get to see Kate live on the 18th December singing songs from the album. I was sad to have to put it away now that Christmas is past, but know that it will reappear each December as a firm favourtie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 February 2009
One of the very best C.Ds of seasonal (Christmas/NewYear) music of any type ever issued. A return to Kate Rusby at her best following her disappointing `Awkward Annie` C.D. It could have been issued a bit earlier, rather than mid-December to stand a better chance of pre Christmas sales, however it was definitely worth waiting for.
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on 9 July 2009
I left my Yorkshire home many years ago, as the wheezing lungs of Hawk-and-Spitting retired Miners gave me pause for thought in my teens.
I daily saw the grime-encrusted factory windows and, maybe I was unique?
Because I thought "There's got to be something better than THIS!"
So I "Bashed the Books" and escaped, while my boyhood friends and pals remained to follow their fathers, while I followed the Sun.

It was actually a Greek chap who recommended Kate "Live at Leeds" to me,
and HE was of Cypriot/ Egyptian parentage, now THERE'S a combination, but good music and talent is appreciated everywhere.

Now, approaching 60, I can't wait to add this to my library.
GRADELY lass is Kate Rusby! Ah knew ah should 'ave wed 'Un.

Singin' bedtime stuff to the rugrats with that soaring pure Alabaster soprano voice of hers, even the rancid Tripe an' Unniunns would have tasted SWEET!

She makes me feel quite Homesick!Sweet Bells
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