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KATE RUSBY - "Hourglass" - Pure Records PRCD02
It's good to see Kate Rusby asserting her artistic independence away from the constraints of either Equation or The Poozies. This is time for a return to traditional music which she favours and she brings to the material both a vocal clarity and a real sense of conviction.

It isn't easy to deliver the lyrics of a song such as "Jolly Ploughboy" without sounding like a parody all things rustic, but she pulls it off by understating each and every line. Her utter confidence in her lyrics - this ability to somehow let the song come to life again through her - also makes "Annan Waters" a really memorable number.

Highlights are the self-penned songs, "Stananivy", which is unconsciously adapted from Barney Brallaghan, "A Rose in April" and "Old Man Time". All have the strong but simple narrative of a traditional folk song, but each also is an illustration of the writer's quite distinctive style.

There is a beautiful sound balance on this album, as you'd expect from contributing guest musicians such as Ian Carr, Andy Cutting, The Poozies and Battlefield Band. No substitute for Prozac, but a lovely, well-crafted album.

Fred Redwood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 21 of The Living Tradition magazine.