The brightest star shines at Snape

Kate Rusby, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, August 30 Kate Rusby is undoubtedly the finest female folk singer of her generation. On her latest visit to Snape Maltings the Yorkshire lass didn't put a foot wrong.

Kate Rusby, Snape Maltings Concert Hall, August 30

Kate Rusby is undoubtedly the finest female folk singer of her generation. On her latest visit to Snape Maltings the Yorkshire lass didn't put a foot wrong. Her show was a sell out and it was clear from the outset that the "voice of the nineties" remains at the very top of her game. Songs from her latest album, Awkward Annie, featured throughout but there was nothing clumsy about her performance or that of her superb band.

It's her sixth solo studio album and marks her debut as producer. Her group - John McCusker, Andy Cutting, Andy Seward and Ian Carr - are without question among the very best folk musicians in the world and their combined expertise gives Kate the perfect platform on which to deliver her repertoire of original and traditional songs.

As far as I know Kate has never strayed far from her acoustic roots even though with a voice like hers she would be well capable of turning her tonsils to many other genres. On her latest CD there's a bonus track which hints at a direction she might take. It's her version of the Kinks classic The Village Green Preservation Society which she recorded for the BBC TV series Jam and Jerusalem. It's the best Ray Davies cover I've heard since Kirsty MacColl's rendition of Days and is proof, if needed, that Kate is a great pop singer too.

Kate's remarkable voice has all the qualities that still makes the late, great Sandy Denny an essential listen. The former Fairport vocalist's finest five minutes was Where Does All The Time Go, sentiments shared by the Snape audience come 9.30pm when the second of Kate's sets came to a close. Such was the beauty of both the material and way it was delivered, not to mention some amusing little anecdotes in-between, that time flew by as it so often does when you're having fun.

Back in 2003 Kate released what remains her best album to date. Underneath The Stars is a modern day folk classic. It was instrumental in making folk hip again and the songs she included from it at Snape were particularly well received. The Goodman, Let Me Be and the title track are now seminal folk recordings which will more than stand the test of time.

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The song Underneath The Stars was Kate's encore. She sang it alone on stage with only her guitar as backing. As she did so the stars shone over the Suffolk coast helping light up The Maltings but for the hour and a half Kate was on stage the brightest star of all that evening was inside the building. There are plenty of good singers around but vocalists of the calibre of Kate Rusby don't come round too often. Kate's something of a rarity - a cool folk singer. Who would have thought such a thing existed?

Stephen Foster

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