This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 1/04
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Kate Rusby has returned and wrapped her distinctive voice around another set of traditional tunes.
The subject matter of the songs is the proverbial fare of love lost or lovers separated but there are a few twists included.
The opening cut, "The Good Man," features a husband as a borderline doofus. On different returns home, he encounters an unfamiliar horse, then an out-of-place powdered wig, next an unrecogizable riding coat and finally a handsome man. Yet his suspicions seem only mildly aroused as his spouse assures him he has seen a saddled cow, a powdered hen, a sheet with buttons and a bearded maid, respectively.
"The Blind Harper" had me initially thinking it was a song about Turlough O'Carolan. However, it proved to be a fast-paced story of a confidence man who pulls a "sting" on a certain King Henry.
The rhythm of "Young James" ebbs and flows, a compelling attraction that engages the listener to pay even greater attention to the story.
Both "Falling" and "Bring Me A Boat" reveal the pain and torment of separation. The latter song has an especially plaintive confluence of guitar, mandolin and surprisingly, towards the end, euphonium, flugel horn, tuba, Eb horn, flute and cornet.
The heroine in "Polly" remains determined, defiant and true, and is ultimately rewarded for such when she is reunited with her intended in the end.
The appearance of an apparition raises the hopes of young Margaret that her beau has finally returned in "Sweet William's Ghost." Unfortunately, it is just for a brief, final check-in, dashing the spirit of the hopeful lover.
Produced by Rusby's husband, John McCusker, this release has a more engaging instrumental backing than her previous offerings.
As this reviewer has previously mentioned, Kate has mastered this particular genre so here's wishing she next hooks up with a couple of Compass Record musicians and tries on some Appalachian, Americana and bluegrass tunes. That would be very interesting.
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