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Make the Light

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Album Review

While Jennifer Saunders might be an obvious port of call for comedians wanting career advice, she's not exactly the first person most folksingers would turn to for help with their latest album. But having performed a cover of the Kinks' "The Village Green Preservation Society" for Saunders' recent BBC comedy, Jam and Jerusalem, the Barnsley Nightingale, aka Kate Rusby, has done just that. Inspired by the Ab Fab star's suggestion that she should release a record composed solely of self-penned songs, the Mercury Music Prize nominee's ninth studio LP, Make the Light, is the first of her 15-year career not to feature any cover versions, a development that has resulted in Rusby's most personal and autobiographical effort to date. Co-produced with brother Joe and featuring husband Damien O'Kane on guitar and tenor banjo, the early tracks, "The Wishing Wife," a jaunty Celtic-tinged jig based on the strange tale of a downtrodden woman turning her husband into a dog, and the gentle protest song "Let Them Fly" ("We will never be charmed by the charmless") suggest the family affair has instilled both a newfound sense of surrealism and political activism. However, the remaining nine tracks opt for a more traditional approach, blending Rusby's charmingly delicate Yorkshire-accented tones with more wistful lyrical themes, uncluttered simple arrangements, and a more melancholic nature, as on the winsome alt-country of "Lately"; the wintry hymnal-like "Green Fields," which would have fit comfortably on Christmas-themed predecessor Sweet Bells; and the enchanting lullaby-esque closing number, "Four Stars." But other than "Walk the Road," a surging collaboration with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band that briefly threatens to break out into a mass singalong, the pace remains resolutely stately throughout, meaning that the likes of the slightly poppy "Only Hope," the double bass/cello-led "Shout to the Devil," and the dreamy "Fair Weather Friend" get lost among the crowd of gentle acoustic ballads. But while Make the Light fails to build on the radical departure promised by its opening numbers, it's still a charming and well-crafted first entirely original effort suggesting that Saunders can also add A&R to her list of many talents. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Biography

Born: 01 December 1973 in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, Englan

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Folk singer/songwriter Kate Rusby has lived in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, since birth, and grew up in a musical family. Her parents had a ceilidh dance band and introduced her to British folk at an early age. Along with her sister, Emma, Rusby joined the band, singing backup...
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Make the Light, Kate Rusby
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