Kate and band on home ground, Barnsley 2018. Image: Jonas Soderstrom
I was not sure whether to make this the 44th instalment of Salut! Live's Cover Story series comparing and contrasting different versions of the same pieces of music. I shall have it both ways, listing my appraisal of Kate Rusby's new album Hand me Down in two categories, Cover Story and Reviews ...
Much has changed in the world, including that part of the world occupied by folk music, since I first came across Kate Rusby when she was young and I was, well, not truly old.
That was the 1990s. Kate, with Kathryn Roberts*, was a breath of fresh air in folk, their Barnsley accents enhancing the songs they sang and making them sound traditional even if they were contemporary.
Kate enjoyed saying how pleased she was that not everyone liked folk. The marginal nature of this musical genre seemed to her to make it all the more precious, something to be sought after as if a rare diamond.
Over the years since then, she has produced some jewels of her own, a string of outstanding albums showcasing her enchantingly gentle and sometimes mournful voice, sublime live performances bringing warmth and joy to concert halls and other venues of widely varying size.
And her musical interests have developed significantly along the way. The 'knocking down castles" songs that once seemed, on her own account, to define her have been joined by captivating songs of her own composition and an enthusiasm for dipping into the work of others.
Covering classics can be a risky strategy for any performer but the overwhelmingly positive response to her interpretations, for example, of Sandy Denny's Who Knows Where The Times Goes? and Iris DeMent's Our Town served to vindicate the broadening of the Rusby repertoire.
Hand Me Down is the entirely logical consequence of that evolution, a triumphant collection of hits associated with Coldplay, the Bangles, the Kinks, Lyle Lovett, Taylor Swift, Cyndi Lauper, James Taylor, Paul Young, the Cure and Bob Marley plus two pieces culled from TV series soundtracks.