‘Life In A Paper Boat’ from Kate Rusby “...a ‘triumph’”

(October 12, 2016)

Few original words, if any, remain to be written about Kate Rusby and her music. There are not many without running out of plaudits or risking dissolving into sugary-sweet appreciation. The iconic purity of voice, the feel for tradition, the ability to express every nuance of a song, they’re Life-in-a-Paper-Boat-Coverall there in her latest album ‘Life In A Paper Boat’ but to explore the desire for an original ‘mot juste’, there’s something else. And that’s a ‘difference’ to this album, subtle I’ll admit but different nonetheless ... the vibrant interpretation of traditionals, the allure of the originals, the pervading electronics, while across all the inimitable touch of production by Damien O’Kane taking the songs to somewhere not always expected yet always intriguing.

Which taken as a whole, means that ‘Life In A Paper Boat’ is an album that start-to-finish brings every track, ‘tradition arranged’ or ‘original composition’ from its place of beginning through the metamorphosis of interpretation to point expression to a unique existence. This is where true freshness is added to tradition and superbly controlled innovation is paired with heritage ... and essentially, still searching for that killer word, I would quite simply call ‘Life In A Paper Boat’ a ‘triumph’.

The evidence for that assertion lies in the reworking of such pleasures as ‘Benjamin Bowmaneer’, ‘The Ardent Shepherdess’ with a crisp new tune and the ‘Pace Egging Song’ while originals such as the stunning ‘Hunter Moon’, the moving ‘Life In A Paper Boat’, a cautionary ‘I’ll Be Wise’ and the wonderful tale of the Yorkshire superhero ‘Big Brave Bill’ amply prove gifted talent at work.

Fundamentally, five stars are insufficient, but in the absence of any alternative level of recognition then ‘Life In A Paper Boat’ from Kate Rusby deserves five stars.


Review: Tim Carroll

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