‘Angels and Men’ from Kate Rusby - nothing less than pure spiritual joy(November 15, 2017)
Always slightly suspicious of ‘the Christmas album’, I now feel like Scrooge following his encounter with spirits and Christmas-morning ‘conversion’. This particular revelation arrived through a concoction of Christmas songs, sacred and secular, ancient and contemporary ... ‘Angels & Men’ from Kate Rusby. A measure of festive spirit that’s nothing less than pure spiritual joy. Lovingly crafted, exquisitely produced and presented to perfection ... through a voice that possesses an indefinable attraction to set it apart from all others.
Opening with a gorgeous interpretation of ‘Hark, Hark’ complete with rich brass accents, it moves to an inspired version of ‘Let It Snow’, which is clearly how it should have sounded in the first place, then Kate’s evocative vocals make Chris Sugden’s light-hearted ‘The Ivy And The Holly’ a lyrical experience to savour: “Oh the ivy has a berry, As black as any Sin, It’s not much use in jams or pies, And horrible in gin.” There follows a stunning take on ‘Sweet Chiming Bells’ ... by now the splendour is almost too much to take, before Kate’s elegant version of ‘See Amid The Winter Snow’, once again with that warm brass, becomes another revelation.
It was once said that Richard Burton was blessed with such a magnificent voice people would listen to him read the Greater London telephone directory, if that is any measure of perfection, then I would listen to Kate Rusby sing it. The proof of that flawlessness lives in her versions of ‘Rolling Downward’, an inspired ‘Deck The Halls’ and positively gorgeous take on Richard Thompson’s ‘We’ll Sing Hallelujah’, beforeKate takes a ‘look-forward’ as Christmas fades, the year turns and the New Year beckons with ‘Let The Bells Ring’. Adding a touch of festive humour Kate treats us to ‘Santa Never Brings Me A Banjo’ by David Myles, complete with Ron Block on banjo, and a Christmas outing for that magnificent Barnsley hero in ‘Big Brave Bill Saves Christmas’ ... absolute magic.
‘Angels & Men’ releases on 24 November on the Pure Records label ... need that exceptional Christmas gift for yourself or for a loved one ... this album is the best you can do.
Review: Tim Carroll