Kate Rusby - Hand Me Down

2020 studio album

Hand Me Down - Kate Rusby

the bright young folk review

From one generation to another, like an eternal relay, folk songs, passed through many centuries, become part of our shared heritage and make our lives more worth living. However, there are a great number of pop and rock songs that equally capture our imagination and represent milestones in the fluid development of music and culture.

This observation inspired Kate Rusby to gather a number of her favourite modern songs from outside the folk music repertoire, and arrange them, with the precious contribution of Damien O’Kane, to record Hand Me Down.

Her angelic voice, pure as air, always gives these songs a new twist. They are almost all slow to moderate paced compositions and this surely suits her expressive timbre, but she manages to take the hidden folk vibes from these songs with incomparable authenticity. Two of the best examples of this very personal and intriguing process are Manic Monday and Friday I’m In Love, the latter being the most stunning rendition of the entire album.

One of the key factors for the success of this album is the good level of consistency throughout. It contains songs from different backgrounds (not many albums could feature Caroline on My Mind, Shake It Off and Love of the Common People at the same time) but the arrangements on it are always consistent in style, with O’Kane’s fretted instruments enveloping everything in warm and gentle soundscapes.

Unusually for the work of the Yorkshire singer, there is a little grain of electronic beat in a few tracks, Days and If I Had a Boat among them, but it is just a soft touch that does not affect the overall result very much.

Thanks to the skilful arrangements, and perhaps the fact it was conceived whilst in lockdown, Hand Me Down has an intimate feel that delivers a clear message: folk is not only a musical genre, but a way to look at every form of art.

Michele Mele

Released on CD and digitally by Pure Records on 14 August 2020.

1. Manic Monday
2. Everglow
3. Days
4. If I Had a Boat
5. Maybe Tomorrow
6. The Show
7. Shake it Off
8. True Colours
9. Carolina In My Mind
10. Love of the Common People
11. Friday I’m In Love
12. Three Little Birds

Kate Rusby discography