Underneath The Stars (Pure Records. PRcD012, 2003)
British folk/traditional music doesn’t come much better than at the hands of Rusby and her crew of excellent musicians. The last CD celebrated her career to date and this new one sees her consolidating her place in the music. She revives songs from the tradition whilst developing her own songwriting skills. So we hear her once again putting superb tunes to the words of some well, and lesser, known lyrics. And as ever she is surrounded by arrangements that include fiddles, accordions, whistles and guitars.
The Good Man, which opens the CD tells a tale of wifely deception and a puzzled husband while lost love and press-ganging come together in Cruel. On Let Me Be, a girl wishes that men would leave her alone, except of course the man she wants who is ignoring her ! The course of true love and all that.One of the most beautiful melodies on a CD that’s overflowing with them has to be The White Cockade, another well known story of a young girl’s separation from her love who’s gone to serve the King. She delivers it flawlessly with some excellent accompaniment from John McCusker’s cittern in particular.
There are also a couple of collaborations. For example she mixes a Phil Cunningham tune with parts of a song from Newcastle, The Waters Of The Tyne, re-working the words in her own style. Bring Me A Boat is the result of this meeting and features a subtle brass quartet along with some fine nyckleharpa. There are several self-penned songs too which draw on the tradition and also her own life, as in the autobiographical, ‘Falling’.
Let’s face it, Rusby and band cannot put a foot wrong in their interpretation of British traditional music and the more contemporary material. Long may it continue.