Ghost is the new album from English folk singer Kate Rusby. A couple of years ago she released a compilation to celebrate twenty years as a musician and it still comes as a bit of a surprise to realise that last year she reached another personal milestone when she turned forty.
The years seem to have flown by since I was lucky enough to sit down and talk with her at a folk festival in England not so long after she had released her first solo album Hourglass in her early twenties. Since that time she has become widely known for her lovely singing voice with its Yorkshire tones and for her superb interpretations of traditional English songs. She has also developed enormously as a songwriter whose own songs sound – in a good way – as if they had been written many years ago.
She has surprised even herself with her prolific album releases and with these you always know what to expect. A new generation of English singers may have been experimenting in all sorts of ways but Rusby largely sticks to a familiar path and style. Each album is subtly different in emphasis – her 2010 recording Make the Light was made up entirely of original compositions – but the overall sound and arrangements are never radically changed. This is no bad thing as Rusby and her musicians (who have also changed over the years) are a finely tuned unit who always serve up the very best accompaniments.
This latest offering is a lesson is how to make an appealing and uplifting album and ranks with the very best. It opens with the traditional ‘The Outlandish Knight’ followed by ‘The Youthful Boy’ which includes husband Damien O’Kane on electric guitar and Ron Block on banjo adding a slightly new twist here and elsewhere. The lush sounding ‘Bonnie Bairns’ is outstanding with its use of flute and strings. Later, the heartbreaking ‘After This’ is a contender for Rusby’s finest composition to date. Ghost ends with the title track, another Rusby original, and this time she dispenses with her musicians to sing alone at the piano. There isn’t a false step anywhere. You may not be shocked or surprised by any of this but Ghost is a terrific and, yes, a haunting album.
Ghost is released by Pure Records.