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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 19 November 2002
At the risk of being misunderstood, I would say that this is not the best starting point of Kate Rusby's material. This is a very personal view, from a farirly "non-folk" person. It's just that if I'd bought this album first I'm not sure whether I'd have fully apprciated Kate's music. To me the album has a more "traditional folk" feel than the others. Before I get shot down in flames, I think it's a wonderful album. It's simply that it maybe isn't quite as accessible to those who are relatively new to the great Kate Rusby or to English folk music, and maybe "Hourglass" or "Little lights" would be a better starting point - and hopefully the beginning of an addiction!
"Cobbler's daughter" tells the tale of a young lass whose mother is in prison for accidentally killing a young man who was getting a little fresh with her daughter in her chamber. Like the other songs on the album, the instrumental breaks are a delight. "I wonder what is keeping my true love" and "Fairest of all Yarrow" showcase Kate's voice beautifully. "Wild Goose" has some gorgeously sweet violin playing between verses. "All God's angels" is another heart-render..
"Our town" is exquisite. I had never heard the song - nor even of it - before encountering this album. What a song, and what a rendition! The song is intensely moving: "but hold on to your lover, cause your heart's gonna die.." becomes "I'll hold on to my lover, cause my heart's just died.." As with many of her renditions of sad songs, Kate sings in a natural, almost matter-of-fact sort of way that somehow makes the song all the more moving. It's hard to explain, but if you listen to any of her material you'll understand what I mean. The guitar and especially the mandolin on this track are terrific - again almost understated,letting the song breathe rather than dominating it. This approach to instrumentation is fairly typical, and probably the result of John McCusker's shrewd understanding of the genre.
Yes, I think that "Sleepless" is just as good as "Hourglass" and "Little Lights." If you haven't got any of Kate's albums, consider buying one or both of the others first. If you already have one or both of the others but not this one yet, you should be ashamed of yourself!
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on 15 January 2002
I first read about Kate in a Guardian article back in 1999. I went straight out to buy 'Sleepless' simply because she came across as such a quirky and intelligent woman.
I was captivated from the moment I heard her flawless vocals...and the yorkshire lilt creeping into her lyrics made it all the more appealing to me having just moved to Yorkshire myself.
Don't let this put you off though. Kate takes the notion of a traditional folky love song and translates it, just for you. To see her live once is a memorable experience; to see her twice you'll feel like you know this lovely lady.
This album is the best of the lot, and the rest isn't all that bad.
An investment in itself.
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It's a dank and drizzly day in late May, I've played the Strawbs and others, and so I rather randomly put this on, while pretending to tidy up my room. Magically, the spot was hit! Kate's gently Yorkshire-inflected voice soothes and lilts, a timeless backdrop to my halfhearted housekeeping endeavours.
This is the KR record I've always had a soft spot for, including as it does the very lovely song The Wild Goose, a haunting and unforgettable trad ditty about sailing away from heartbreak, or simply from trouble:

Did you ever see the wild goose sailing on the ocean
Ranzo my boys, O Ranzo Ray

and later:

If I sail like the wild goose you'll break it no more
Ranzo my boys, O Ranzo Ray

It's got a glorious arrangement, all keening violin, acoustic guitar, and a welcome guest vocal from velvet-voiced veteran singer (and hilarious live act, incidentally!) big old Dave Burland.
They're not all traditional songs, some are by Kate herself, but they meld happily and seamlessly into this well-programmed set of songs.
There's a restrained strength to Rusby's deceptively winsome vocals, but the overall feel is one of contemplation and nights round the fire with something warm and strong to sup.
Her reading of the great Iris De Ment's Our Town is almost as fine as the American singer's original.
The rest of this delightful album is equally beguiling.
Kate Rusby (her name alone is, if you will, a nice mixture of the rustic ancient and abrasive modern) was a refreshing new voice on the folk scene fifteen years or so ago. She still sounds fresh as new paint, and this is an atmospheric and very set of songs.

Highly recommended.
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on 15 December 2000
A long time ago I was sat upstairs at Durty Nellie's during the Beverley Folk festival and a good time was being had, when these two very pretty lasses showed up and proceeded to wrap the room around their little fingers. Especially the older men present.
I confess I couldn't really see it myself. Sure Kate and Kathryn were more than a little gorgeous to look at and there was no denying that they'd a pair fine voices, but apart from that I found myself thinking `ho hum'. Pretty young voices singing Old Songs are all very well, but the Old Songs demand a little more than that. They demand understanding from the singer, and back then the ambition was there but the execution was slightly lacking.
And so I started to ignore Kate Rusby.
Which was a mistake.
Time has passed, experience has done its job and, well, this album is wonderful. There's a maturity to her reading of the songs that reminds me of the likes of Norma Waterson, or of Maddy PRyor on one of her good days. The songs are well chosen, the new songs fit well with the Old and the album just sounds `right'. And the sequence from `I wonder what is keeping my true love tonight' through `The fairest of all Yarrow' to `The Unquiet Grave' is likely to tear your heart out. Great, great stuff.
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on 15 June 2005
I had been wondering about giving Kate Rusby a try for a while when a friend gave me a copy of Sleepless - I didnt listen to anything else for two months! Kate Rusby is such a pure and honest performer that you cant help but fall in love with the songs, and that voice is spun gold!
Here on Sleepless is a great collection of folk songs with new arrangments from Kate and her collaborators, I can't tell you what a fantastic album this is - buy it, you will not be dissapointed!
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on 28 October 2012
The Sleepless CD of Kate Rusby is a wonderful musical experience. Her voice and music are lovely to hear. I discovered her music by accident, saw her name and thought: well what has this lady for me in store. Once listened to some of her songs I was lost.
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on 11 March 2000
I don't usually review cd's (well practically never!), but since I have the chance... :o)
On first (and subsequent) listen, what strikes me most about the lyrics is their honesty and empathy with the characters described - "Unquiet Grave", "I Wonder What Is Keeping...". Each song tells a story so beautifully, my favourite being "Fairest of all Yarrow". Kate has such warmth in her voice and this is echoed by the brilliant musicianship throughout the album. I find Kate's music very calming, but thought provoking at the same time. It's an album that is on repeat play, and it never fails to make me smile. It makes me want to pick up my guitar after every listen - even at 3 in the morning! Inspiring and inspired.
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on 28 October 2013
Saw Kate at the Trowbridge Village Pump festival this summer - loved her act, and love listening to the CD even more. Wonderful songs, wonderful voice, and such a great band of folk musicians supporting her. This is one of her earlier disks, and the songs seem less polished but fresher in performance than her later works. Hard to choose my favourite CD of Kate's - I love them all, but play this one and Hourglass more than the others.
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on 7 July 2012
I mainly know Kate Rusby for her song 'Underneath the Stars'..... one of my favorite songs, but thought her material a tad too 'traditional' for my tastes; that was until I had a listen to the samples from Sleepless on Amazon.
Although rooted strictly in the folk vein, the music is very accessible and listenable. I'm tempted now to try out Kate's other albums
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on 6 December 2012
As with my review of the Hourglass album. 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.
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