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Kate Rusby

LITTLE LIGHTS (Compass) • Kate Rusby

If you are not yet acquainted with the current princess of English folk music, you have a beautiful experience in store. She is a very pure breed and has a sound that will be around for a long, long time. The voice is full and round, strong but soft and true to the song, always the song.

Many of the songs that sound traditional are penned by the artist. The others are all traditional words set to music by Kate, except the brilliant Richard Thompson song "Withered and Died."

The players on the record are hellishly good. Little Lights is produced by husband John McCusker, a master musician from Scotland, and a fair legend in his young time. Ian Carr and John Doyle play superb guitar throughout. (As just one example, when Carr starts pushing all these chords underneath the traditional melody of "I Courted a Sailor," you awake to the spirit of the horse you are riding.)

But there are many UK musicians of the very highest order here: Ewan Vernal, Andy Seward and Danny Thompson on double bass, Andy Cutting on diatonic accordion, Mairtin O'Connor on accordion, Michael McGoldrick on whistles and tenor banjo. Also the producer on fiddle, cittern and whistle, and Malcom Stitt on bouzouki. The wonderful Eddi Reader joins the artist vocally on several tracks (see our review this issue) as does John Jones. Keith Angel plays percussion and marimba, and there is a five piece brass section. Three of America's finest join the party, Alison Brown on banjo and Darrell Scott and Tim O'Brien on vocals, guitar and mandolin. What can you say, the record sounds fantastic. (In fact, the cut that Darrell and Tim play on, "Who Will sing Me Lullabies," won the BBC Original Song of the Year.)

Kate's first big breakthrough was a CD with Kathryn Roberts in 1995, and the next was with the all female group The Poozies. The third rocket stage was her own solo career, which has gone through the roof and has a sky full of stars ahead. Buy this record, it will bring you joy. Listen to clips here.  • FG

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