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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 29 September 2007
"I am wandering now.
Through this world
I am wandering, wandering,
These are the days I live now."
(from "Planets")

AWKWARD ANNIE is beautiful and melancholy. I don't want to read too much into the music knowing how difficult the last two years have been for Kate. I can imagine, though, it must have been as tough as her liner notes indicate. It's funny how you want artists you love to be happy and free from the heartaches which plague most humans. John McCusker must have been a tough genius to live with. The good news is that Kate has made one helluvah debut as producer and arranger. Definitely not adrift without the guiding brilliance of John.

The poignancy is potent in many places in the record--most strongly in "The Bitter Boy," "Farewell," "Planets," "Andrew Lammie" and "Daughter of Heaven." How many of the lyrics and sentiments are meant to be autobiographical I don't know--hard to avoid thinking so with "The Bitter Boy." As to her usual high standard, she mixes lovely traditionals (for which she's written music) and several gorgeous originals which--as is always the case with Kate--sound somehow old and new at the same time.

One characteristic, I think, of her producing and arranging is a new emphasis on instrumental interludes in the midst of the songs. I count eight songs in which the magic combination of instrumentalists are allowed to do their own thing for extended periods. How beautiful those players play. Several songs have a whole group of string players and several others a great mix of horns. The banjo figures in several songs more than in previous albums. And what a group of harmony singers: Eddi, Chris, Joe and the amazing deep voice of John Hudson. The latter and Eddi Reader work such choral magic in my favorite song on the album, "Blooming Heather," that I get goosebumps every time I listen to it. This--in spite of all the versions I've heard and liked of this song under its more common name, "Wild Mountain Thyme." This is the best version, the most moving one, I know of this great song. Overall, my favorites are "The Bitter Boy," "John Barbury," "High on a Hill," "Planets," "Daughter of Heaven," and, of course, "Blooming Heather." One signature moment--Donald Shaw's gorgeous piano work in "John Barbury." Exquisite. And Kate and Eddi were made to harmonize.

I hope the artistic achievement of AWKWARD ANNIE and the support of her family give Kate much solace.
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VINE VOICEon 13 October 2007
She's lovely is Kate Rusby ...don't you think? I guess the fact you are on this page reading this sort of answers the question but you know...the points worth making anyway. She sings ....well that's what she does .Pure gorgeous cut glass vocals with no screeching , hyperventilating or warbling , just proper gliding vocals . Listening to Kate is always an absolute treat. She writes good songs as well .Five of the tracks on this album are written by Kate -the others are her usual impeccable arrangements of traditional songs -and while you will never be surprised by a Kate Rusby album that's sort of the point. She can always be relied upon to compose quality music within a specific genre (folk in case you haven't been paying attention) and has been doing this for some time now.
Awkward Annie is her seventh solo album and the first self produced effort ( Joe helped it says on the back cover) after the split from husband/producer John McCusker( Who still plays on the album ) .The usual mix of tender ballads and mildly quirky numbers are embellished sometimes by strings ,sometimes brass , even banjo on "Planets" and mandolin on "The Old Man" while guest vocalists Chris Thile and Eddie Reader pop up on "High On A Hill" and "Daughter Of Heaven". John Hudson adds operatic backing on a stunning arrangement of the traditional "Blooming Heather". "Bonus track" a cover of the Kinks "The Village Green Preservation Society " recorded for the BBC,s "Jam And Jerusalem" series is the nearest I have heard Kate hop genres , apart from the duet with Ronan Keating.
The album notes state that "For many reasons this record has been immensely tough to make" and it shows for this is a more persuasively melancholic album than Kate has made before . This is especially true in tracks like the lament to someone who has gone "Daughter Of Heaven " or the poignant " The Bitter Boy". Whatever trauma or difficulties inscribed them selves onto "Awkward Annie " it has aided in the making of another terrific Kate Rusby album and while there is nothing quite as magnificent as my favourite Kate Rusby song -"All Gods Angels " from "Sleepless" - there is no dreary wadding either. Yes she,.s lovely is Kate and more importantly I suppose she is one this country's most talented singer songwriters and an inexplicably under appreciated one at that.
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on 31 July 2007
I was lucky enough to see Kate Rusby at the Cambridge Folk Festival, where she was selling advance copies of this, her latest, album.

As before, it is a mix of traditional folk stories and new songs. All are excellently performed allowing Kate's northern style to shine though. As with previous albums she is joined by a wide range of other musicians and incorporates bass and strings, and is even joined by Chris Thile (formerly of Nickle Creek) on "The Old Man". The album is finished by the soundtrack song from the BBC program Jam and Jerusalem.

A must buy for all Kate Rusby fans - and an excellent example of current folk music.
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on 2 September 2007
I recently went to see(August 31) Kate and her wonderful band at the Alban Arena, St Albans. I purchase the CD of this album, and she played quite a few tracks from it. It seems that the album was recorded at a time of personal loss and strain for her. This is reflected in a lot of the tracks, which have a profoundly melancholy feel to them. The track, 'Planets' is a good example of this. However this does not detract from anything you would expect from a Kate Rusby collection. The usual fine collection of players; McCusker, Cutting, Carr and Seaward plus some interesting brass and string arrangements.

Kate Rusby knows folk music very well but imbues it with something that is all her very own. She is genuine, self-deprecating and talented, something we are bereft of in this 'X' Factor world. In closing buy this album for a real treat, albeit a sad one.
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on 7 September 2007
Heartbreakingly beautiful collection of traditional folk and very personal songs. Kate has a unique voice, and works with talented musicians, mixing guitar, banjo, strings and brass in a strange but very satisfying way. The themes are ones of loss, regret and sadness; reflecting sadness in her own life; hence for me personally this is her "blue" record. If Kate is reading this, please don't lose the faith. Ignore the critics and just do "your own thing", which you do so well.
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on 2 October 2007
Kate Rusby writes, sings and plays real music by which I mean music where simple stories, skillfull instrumentation and distinctive voices come together to create something magical that is more than the sum of its parts. 'Awkward Annie' is a fine addition to her discography and won't disappoint anyone who has ever appreciated Kate's work.

When I began listening to this cd I enjoyed it from the start but found it impossibly affecting. As others have mentioned it's moving and melancholy in places ('Bitter Boy' stands out as particularly moving but there are a few) that is however characteristic of the folk tradition. It does have less sad and more mischievous moments though as her previous albums have (including my current favourite 'The Old Man').

If you've ever liked Kate's music you won't be disappointed with 'Awkward Annie'. It's a really strong album, the tracks belong together and it's an absolute pleasure to listen to.
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on 1 March 2008
This is one of Kate's best albums. In the past she has tended to overload her selections with the same themes, many of them quite despondent. Despite her unfortunate personal problems she has somehow managed to come up with a greater share of "up" songs. It's a policy I hope she maintains.

Her voice is as sweet as ever, her production sounds in no way inferior to John McCusker, and she has enlisted a couple of new backing musicians to add to her usual retinue. This has helped to freshen things up. Chris Thile does a lovely harmony (along with Eddi Reader) on High on a Hill, plays mandolin and is joined by the excellent John Doyle on another track.

The tracks I enjoy most are her own originals, which is another encouraging sign for the future. The title track has a gorgeous lilt which makes me, at any rate, want to sing along with it every time I play it! I was a little disappointed with Blooming Heather described here as "traditional".The song is better known as "Wild Mountain Thyme" or "Go Lassie, Go" and was written by Francie McPeake , who I believe was from Belfast.I don't like the male vocal line used either, so this does not replace Sean Tyrrell as my favourite version.

The album's closer is the old Ray Davies song " The Village Green Preservation Society" which is every bit as successful as it is surprising, and is an inspired selection. You can't really go wrong buying this album !
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on 8 September 2007
I'm probably not alone in considering "Underneath the Stars" as Kate's landmark. That album deserves 5 stars for the title track alone. Having not enjoyed "The Girl who couldn't fly" quite as much, I'm pleased to say that "Annie" finds Kate back on top form. A lovely mixture of glad and sad as ever.Only towards the end do things begin to drag a little- then Kate lifts it with her marvellous version of "Blooming Heather" and that guest male vocalist gives it something really special. The old Kinks track at the end should be a single-- an a hit!
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on 16 July 2008
I like to listen to Jerry Anderson on BBC Radio Ulster, he's really funny (although when my English Nephew was visiting he couldn't understand a word anyone on the show was saying) and he plays nice folk music. I heard the song 'village green appreciation society' a few times on his show, and thought it was brill (I don't remember the Kinks version.) I surfed the net to find who sang it, and came across Kate Rusby - what a discovery! I bought this album on the strength of that one track, and have played it nearly to death already. I like all the songs, as well a loving Kate's accent (I spent two years in Leeds when I was at college, and it brings me back to those happy times.) Buy it. Play it. Love it.
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on 17 September 2007
There is a lot of sadness and darkness here and at first listening may seem a bit depressing but keep listening. It is a beautiful record; all the interpretations of traditionals are great with 'Blooming Heather' being totally sublime-impossible not to be moved. Good Kate compositions too. Maybe in time will come to be seen as a great album. Can't wait to see her sing some of this live in her autumn tour. This is beautiful stuff.
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