Kate Rusby: Make The Light

Make The Light is the new album by English folk singer Kate Rusby and is due for release on the Pure Records label later this month. A Japanese release through MSI is also scheduled for the 20th December.

It was back in the summer of 1998 that I first met and interviewed Kate Rusby at the Bridgnorth Folk Festival in England for a magazine feature in Kansai Time Out. A lot has happened since then. She has released several successful albums combining her own arrangements of traditional songs with the occasional self-penned title, and she has gone on to become the best known and most popular English female folk singer of her generation. After a gap in which she gave birth to a baby daughter, she returns now with a completely new group of backing musicians for this album, which includes husband Damien O’Kane on guitar and banjo. A brass quintet and string quartet also feature on the album. The biggest change though is that, for the first time, the album contains all original songs written by Rusby.

One of the charges occasionally made against Kate Rusby is that she has tended to pursue the same safe musical path with each release, unlike some of her contemporaries who have experimented with different styles and genres. The new band does sound very similar to the previous one and the arrangements are the familiar ones we have come to expect, despite the fact that there are no traditional songs here. Having said that, would we really want anything else when she is capable of singing like an angel and producing albums as satisfying as this?

The new songs reveal her development as a songwriter, albeit one with an eye firmly on the old traditions. She has the knack of making a brand new song sound absolutely timeless as, for example, on ‘The Wishing Wife’ which could easily have been a ballad from long ago. At the heart of the album is the song ‘Walk the Road’ which echoes the theme of renewal and hope which runs throughout this compelling set of eleven songs. Meanwhile, ‘Let Them Fly’ is her first attempt at a song with a political message, and ‘Four Stars’ with its gorgeously hypnotic chorus is another outstanding track. Overall, Make The Light is an album of considerable depth which will reward repeated listening and should delight not only Rusby’s fans but even win over some of those critics.

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