This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 5/00
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Is it her voice? Is it the material? Is it her talent for interpretation and presentation? Arguments could be made for any of the aforementioned but the combination of them all adds up to yet another eminently listenable and enjoyable Rusby release. Fast on her way to becoming a major performer in the United Kingdom, she is still relatively unknown here in this country--a matter that will be quickly corrected with greater exposure to U.S. audiences.
Rusby's vocals have an alluring mix of sweetness and sexiness, which perfectly matches the choice of material on this release--a parade of traditional-sounding tunes covering the spectrum of love and lament. It's the genuineness she engenders when she presents a song, not the power of her vocals, that moves to the fore. The listener is drawn in to believe Rusby, herself, is actually the subject matter in many of the tunes.
Guiltless scheming is the motif of the bizarre "The Cobbler's Daughter." The sociopathic central character of the tune creates a situation which results in her "beau" being slain and her mother being sent to prison. Rusby's so matter-of-factly singing of the tune greatly adds to the effect of the cut.
"I Wonder What is Keeping my True Love this Night" depicts mismatched lovers: one completely committed to the relationship, the other committed only when the pair are together. Rusby, backed by guitar, flute and subtle accordion, delicately closes the song with:
The tricky "The Duke and the Tinker" is a rags to riches to rags story. Per the orders of a duke, an inebriated tinker is taken to a castle, robed in the best of clothes and brought to a dinner staged in his honor. After much eating and drinking, the unfortunate man passes out again and the duke has him transported back to where he was first found. The tinker has the last laugh though as the last verse goes:
Rusby was born to play this material. Her own songwriting blends so well with the other traditional tunes here that one cannot tell which is which. This is a collection of songs with a very deliberate pacing. The backing is minimal but supportive and appropriate.
Rusby, on vocals, piano and guitar, is backed by Ian Carr on guitar; Conrad Ivitsky on double bass; Roger Wilson on guitar and vocals; Andy Seward on double bass; Darrell Scott on guitar; Tim O'Brien on mandolin and vocals; John McCusker on fiddle and banjo; Michael McGoldrick on whistle and flute; Andy Cutting on diatonic accordion; Donald Hay on percussion; Dave Burland on vocals; and Francis MacDonald on percussion.
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