Kate Rusby

Little Lights

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Kate Rusby won over American audiences in 1999 with her second release, Sleepless, an album of traditional-styled songs with simple arrangements that highlighted her best quality: a lovely, middle-range voice, vulnerable without being waifish. Little Lights continues in the same mode, mixing old ballads with originals and throwing in an occasional contemporary piece. "Merry Green Broom" and "Some Tyrant" are simple and tasteful, continuing Rusby's commitment to the images of old England, while "William and Davy" and "I Courted a Sailor" kick up the tempo a bit. A number of guests, from Tim O'Brien to Danny Thompson to Alison Brown, make appearances, and John McCusker once again lends a hand to the production. A slightly different arrangement featuring brass adorns "My Young Man," complementing Rusby's relaxed style and calling to mind Norma Waterson's approach on Bright Shiny Morning. While there are no bad cuts on Little Lights, there probably isn't enough variety. With a couple of exceptions, the songs unwind at a leisurely pace, and most hover around four minutes. There is nothing quite as lovely and lively as "The Cobbler's Daughter" and "Sweet Bride" from Sleepless. Although more variety would have helped, Little Lights is still a solid effort. Fans will enjoy it, and it will also serve as a good introduction to those unfamiliar with this lovely English singer.

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