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KATE RUSBY "Sleepless" Pure Records PRCD06

Like many others I like Kate Rusby - what's not to like? A recent interview elsewhere made reference to her "strangulated vowels" - I think her strong unaffected accent is one of her great strengths. There are others, but at this point in her career I think the worst thing that could happen is that she becomes wildly fashionable out of proportion to her actual talent. Today's crossover chic can easily become tomorrow's bargain bin fodder and I feel she's too good for such a fate.

Most of the material on the album is either traditional material or self-compositions, and on the latter I thought "The Sleepless Sailor" particularly strong and if this is indicative of what she can do, we can expect great things of her as a songwriter. Other strengths include refreshing arrangements, e.g. on "The Wild Goose" and she shines on Iris Dement's "Our Town".

It has to be said, however, that in spite of these strengths and the skilful selection of very good collaborations such as Dave Burland and Roger Wilson, there is a certain "sameyness" and by mid album a listener fatigue has set in and is only rescued by the intervention of another guest, Tim O'Brien. In spite of these reservations, though, it's a good album free of pretension or gimmickry. It will be interesting to look back on this from the perspective of say her sixth album and see how we view it in the context of where she's gone since, a notion that underlines my belief that we're talking long term here. Deservedly.

Hector Christie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 34 of The Living Tradition magazine.